While one gay publisher is getting divorced from his company, two other gay media juggernauts are consummating their new marriage. At least where gay marriage is legal.
In the continuing saga that is the ownership strife at the parent of Southern Voice and David Atlanta, reports are circulating that David Unger — the guy in the crosshairs of the Small Business Administration — was forced out by none other than the SBA. Unger owns Avalon Equity Fund, which in turn owns a majority stake in Window Media, which publishes SoVo and David, among a handful of others.
Confused? Navigating through the ownership structure of the gay pubs can take a spreadsheet, an iPhone with GPS and a business degree.
Let’s break it down: Avalon is a New York-based investment company that owns a majority stake in the publishers of SoVo and David. The company is in federal receivership—a form of bankruptcy—and being sued by the Small Business Administration. Recently, Unger reportedly sent letters to companies and individuals to gauge their interest in buying the company — or pieces of it — ahead of a liquidation by the SBA that could come as soon as September.
On top of all that is the little matter of an economic recession that has prompted ad sales — and page counts — to plummet. To be fair, that’s not unique to Atlanta’s gay pubs; it’s a fact of life for print publications across the U.S.
Unger, who we heard was trying to sell his gay newspapers and magazines, had been drawing a salary as the head of Avalon, which took on $38 million in federal loans with a plan to invest in gay media. The news of Unger’s possible ouster comes on the heels of SBA placing Avalon into receivership (after Avalon’s cash on hand dropped precipitously low) and the U.S. Department of Labor began poking around the house of Unger. We’re already starting to hear from underlings happy to see him go.
While that’s unfolding at Window and Avalon, PlanetOut and Here Networks announced that their coupling is now legal. The merger complete, you can call the new company Here Media. Assets in the new company include the Advocate, Here Studios, Here Fims and portals Gay.com and Planetout.com.
PlanetOut is the company that bought the Advocate, Out and other gay titles for $32 million in 2004, only to later sell the publishing arm to Here four years later for $6.5 million. More of that bad-times-for-print-publications thing.
Despite that Paul Colichman, CEO of the new company, maintains an upbeat approach.
“We’re taking incredibly valuable assets and putting them in well-managed hands to create a giant win for everybody,” he says.
Uh, huh, Ask Unger how that worked out for him.