Is a deal to unite two of the city’s youngish media turks in the offing? Several weeks ago, Observer owner Jared Kushner approached Dan Abrams about investing in Abrams's media company, Abrams Media, which runs a network of websites, including Mediaite, Mogulite, and Styleite. Jared Kushner is a partner in his brother Josh's VC firm, Thrive Capital, which has raised more than $40 million and invested in a string of Internet companies since it launched in 2009.
The prospective investment may be only a first step, according to several people with knowledge of the matter — a gateway to a richer partnership. One source familiar with the talks says that Kushner discussed a scenario that would form a partnership between the Observer and Abrams's web properties, giving each party a 50 percent ownership stake in the combined venture. The deal makes sense: Abrams's sites have built a robust online audience but are looking for additional investment, while the deep-pocketed Observer has tiny online traffic numbers and is still searching for a digital strategy.
Kushner confirmed to New York that he is in talks with Abrams. "I've had conversations with Dan," he told me. "At the end of the day, we invest in a lot of Internet companies. I like what Dan has done at Mediaite. He's built a robust business." But he said he's not looking to reduce his stake in the salmon-colored weekly. "The Observer right now is on the best trajectory it's ever been on," he says. “Elizabeth [Spiers] has built an excellent team there. Our focus is growing our existing businesses."
In an e-mail, Abrams confirmed the talks, though he denied the specifics of the 50-50 split, and insists he’s far from ready to tie the knot. "For the past couple of months, I have been talking to a number of prospective investors and possible strategic partners. It's been exciting to see this much interest in what we have accomplished in such a short period of time. While I have spoken to Josh Kushner's firm Thrive and then to Jared Kushner about possible investment in my sites, there is nothing imminent on the horizon."