Tech veteran Jonathan Sposato buys Seattle magazine as a voice for the growing city

(Jonathan Sposato Photo via Facebook)

Seattle tech veteran Jonathan Sposato is acquiring Seattle magazine, announcing plans Monday to reinvigorate the 54-year-old publication as a voice for the growing and influential city that has been his longtime home.

Sposato is buying the glossy monthly from Tiger Oak Media, which has published Seattle magazine and other regional titles out of Minneapolis for more than 20 years. Tiger Oak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October. Sposato is purchasing Seattle magazine in his individual capacity, separate from his role as GeekWire’s chairman.

In a post on Facebook, Sposato said he is buying the magazine “because I do not want it said that in the years when my generation came of age, that Seattle lost its voice. I believe Seattle’s best days lie ahead and Seattle magazine will tell the stories that shape our city for generations to come.”

Jonathan Sposato.

Sposato is also chairman of PicMonkey, the online photo editing service. As an entrepreneur he sold two startups to Google — Picnik and Phatbits. He is an active startup investor, and his 2017 book, “Better Together: 8 Ways Working with Women Leads to Extraordinary Products and Profits,” was a national bestseller.

“I was raised here and watched Seattle transform from a city known for sasquatch, Bruce Lee, coffee and airplanes, into a world-class metropolis on par with other iconic destinations across the globe,” Sposato said. “Not only are we home to the most valuable technology companies in the world, this city has also given birth to the most famous musicians, performing artists, business leaders, athletes, and of course Oprah’s favorite Mac “N” Cheese. Seattle is not dying, it’s thriving.”

With an intention to “redefine the conversation around Seattle” and grow the publication’s focus and storytelling, Sposato plans to expand the magazine’s digital presence and its team.

The print media landscape has been decimated for years by newspaper and magazine layoffs and closures, but Sposato believes Seattle’s growth and rise in stature on the national and world stage make it a prime time to invest in such legacy media. And he thinks a print publication with a strong point of view can survive.

“If it’s the case that the internet killed print, then Seattle mag now speaks internet,” he said. “I aim to bring my understanding of how to build successful consumer internet and tech companies to Seattle mag, investing heavily on the digital side. We have lots of very cool ideas there. That said, on the print side there will always be a very human desire to curl up on the couch with beautiful glossy magazines.”

Seattle magazine was founded in 1966 by Harriet Bullitt. It competes in the market most notably with another news and culture magazine, Seattle Met, owned by SagaCity Media.

The acquisition is expected to close shortly. Financial terms were not disclosed. The first issue of Seattle magazine under Sposato’s ownership will hit newsstands and be online in late spring.