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ZelnickMedia Acquires Firm Behind ‘Gossip Girl’—New York Times

Brian Stelter

Alloy, the teenager-focused media company behind the “Gossip Girl” franchise, is being acquired by an investor group led by the private equity firm ZelnickMedia for approximately $126.5 million.

The investor group says it wants to expand Alloy’s reach among young people ages 10 to 29.

Alloy is best known for developing teenager-friendly franchises like “Gossip Girl,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” It also manages a number of Web sites for teenagers and young adults and owns Channel One, which beams broadcasts to schools and, according to the company, reaches nearly six million students. It recently branched into short-form Web video, as well.

ZelnickMedia said that the former Nickelodeon chief executive Geraldine Laybourne would serve as the chairman of Alloy’s board. The co-founders of Alloy, Matt Diamond and Jim Johnson, will remain chief executive and chief operating officer, respectively.

In a statement, Ms. Laybourne said Mr. Diamond and Mr. Johnson had built “an amazing company with a great foundation on content creation and marketing for a demographic I care deeply about.” She praised the “unique creative process” of Alloy’s entertainment arm “that has generated hit after hit.”

That process was described in considerable detail by The New Yorker last year. Rebecca Mead wrote:

Alloy Entertainment packages about thirty books a year for publishers, and also generates TV shows and a growing number of ideas for feature films. Ideas are generated in weekly development meetings and are fleshed out into a short summary by an editor. A writer is asked to create a sample chapter on spec. If Alloy is happy with the sample, they put the writer on contract. The writer then hashes out a plot with Bank, one or two other editors, and Sara Shandler, Alloy’s editorial director. Last year, eighteen of Alloy’s twenty-nine new titles hit the Times children’s best-seller list. It is the belief at Alloy that what kids want to read is not so different from what adults want to read.

The purchase price is $9.80 a share, a 27 percent premium on the Alloy stock based on its closing price for the last 30 days.