The Daily Beast’s editor in chief, Tina Brown, announced to the newsroom on Wednesday afternoon that she will be leaving the five-year-old online outfit.
Brown said she will form a new company, Tina Brown Live Media, which she described as a home for “theatrical journalism.” Brown said the company will produce live events, panel discussions, summits, and debates, including the Women in the World conference, which she has produced since 2010.
“Creating The Daily Beast at the original instigation of Barry Diller in 2008 has given me some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my professional life,” Brown said. “I am enormously proud of what our brilliant editorial team has achieved at the Beast.”
The Daily Beast will continue to operate under IAC, the Internet company chaired by Diller. In 2010 the company acquired Newsweek, and Brown edited both. Late last year Newsweek moved to an all-digital format, and in August it was sold to IBT Media.
The Daily Beast will be overseen by managing director Deidre Depke and executive editor John Avlon.
“I leave The Daily Beast knowing it has never been better,” Brown said. “There is in place a brilliant team of gifted editors and writers who will continue to win prizes, break important news, and blaze a Beastly trail.”
In 2011 and 2012 The Daily Beast won the Webby Award for best news site, and it has seen steady growth of traffic, up 22 percent year to date to nearly 16 million unique visitors in August, as well as advertising growth of 23 percent year over year.
In her remarks to the newsroom, Brown compared her departure to her exit at some other high-profile media companies, and noted that they—Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Tatler—also had had such strong teams in place that they continued to thrive after she left.
“The Beast roars on,” Avlon told staffers. “This is a time of great transition and sadness, but Tina’s spirit, which has invigorated the Beast, is going to live on whether she is here in the flesh or not.”
Brown said she told Diller this summer that she was leaving the company, saying she wanted to pursue her passion for creating live events that provide insight into the news.
Diller was traveling and not available for comment, but Brown is optimistic about the future of The Daily Beast.
“The great thing about change is that you get influxes of new energy and you get different ideas,” she said. “I will be one click away from you every morning,” she told assembled staffers, and added, “I will continue to see you grow.”