Jay Penske
Jay Penske (Penske Media Corp. / October 9, 2012)
Jay Penske has emerged as one of the most powerful figures in the world of entertainment news for industry professionals.
A virtual unknown in Hollywood just over three years ago, the 33-year-old son of auto magnate Roger Penske acquired editor Nikki Finke's news site Deadline.com and today acquired one of the industry's oldest brands and best-known trade publications, Variety, for about $25 million.
Penske's 9-year-old company, Penske Media Corp., started off as the owner of website Mail.com. It then began moving into the world of digital media, using the cash from its sale of Mail.com to acquire such brands as Deadline and Movieline, and launch new ones such as Hollywood Life and TVLine.
Penske also owns rare-book store Dragon Books and the auto-racing team Dragon Racing. In an email interview Tuesday morning, he answered questions about his reasons for purchasing Variety and his plans for the 107-year-old paper.
This has been a long and seemingly arduous bidding process for Variety. Why has it taken so long? Did you buy Variety for the right price? Is it worth $25 million?
The process has taken much longer than we expected, but we couldn't be happier in its outcome. And frankly, the deal came to us in the last few weeks, and only time will tell if it's the right price. But I do believe we did the right deal, at the right price, and now it's time to execute the plan.

Will Variety and Deadline maintain separate and distinct websites and different content? 
Yes, both brands will maintain distinct websites and editorial offerings. I guess a recent parallel would be Bloomberg's purchase of BusinessWeek from McGraw-Hill. Though both brands generally cover business news and finance, each brand has an independent platform advantage, certain brand strengths, valuable non-editorial products, and editorial collaboration that overall is very accretive. And to be clear, this is very different than the The Daily Beast-Newsweek arrangement.

What (if anything) do you think has gone wrong at Variety over the past few years? And what is needed to fix those problems?
It's always hard to diagnose the weaknesses of a business that you're not directly operating. But in the simplest terms, I strongly believe that Variety got too comfortable thinking they had the unconquerable No. 1 brand and a broadsheet that everyone HAD to read. And during those years it stopped investing in its brand, and started to lose some of that brand equity.