Zooey Deschanel (Splash News)
She might play a New Girl on TV, but she’s an old pro at business — because Zooey Deschanel just sold her Los-Angeles based startup, HelloGiggles (seriously, that’s what it’s called), to Time Inc. for reportedly $30 million. ICYMI, Hello Giggles is a general interest women’s website that the actress launched way back when — and by way back when we mean four years ago in 2011 — with her besties TV producer Sophia Rossi and TV writer/blogger Molly McAleer.
The site itself focuses on putting a positive spin on all things woman with article topics ranging from pumpkin spice-colored hair to guidelines for how to live like you’re in a Tim Burton movie to deciding to not give a rat’s you-know-what about your body hair. With a heavy emphasis on curating content from a large contributor network, it aims to embody a true online community feel with a decidedly girl-power slant. According to Quantcast, the site currently earns about 16 million monthly global unique visitors, meaning whatever those gals are doing over there is working.
Still… $30 million for a site that only earned a small seed round in 2014?
“We see the opportunity for HelloGiggles to continue to evolve and grow as a multimedia content business,” Time Inc. Chairman and CEO Joe Ripp said in a release after the news broke. “The site provides strategic benefits including a contributor network that unlocks access to a new pool of editorial and creative talent, an expansive audience of highly-engaged consumers and experience in branded and native content solutions.” For the record, Time, Inc. also owns People and Entertainment Weekly, so this acquisition isn’t so far off base.
Rossi will stay on with the site and report to Time Inc.’s executive vice president. Other players making out like bandits on this deal are Michael Pierce, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and Third Wave Digital, all of whom were initial investors last year and will now collect roughly a 5X return.
Though Deschanel has now sold her stake, she still clearly has a vision for the site’s future. In a statement, the 35-year-old actress explained that, by partnering with Time, HelloGiggles will be able to “inspire and support even more young women with a safe and positive media platform.” She even took to Twitter to gush about the milestone.
We’ll have to wait and see how HelloGiggles does under the new (we’re guessing more formal) management; however, as of this moment, on the spectrum of celebrity entrepreneurs, Zooey Deschanel falls somewhere between The Honest Company’s Jessica Alba and the (now-defunct) Preserve’s Blake Lively.