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Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective bought Pop-Up Magazine Productions

The social impact firm makes another media acquisition, this time of the publisher of California Sunday Magazine and Pop-Up Magazine events.

Laurene Powell Jobs onstage at Code 2017.
Laurene Powell Jobs
Asa Mathat

The Emerson Collective, the social impact firm run by Laurene Powell, is purchasing Pop-Up Magazine Productions for an undisclosed amount. The San Francisco-based Pop-Up runs “live magazine” events across the country and also publishes the online and offline California Sunday Magazine, which is distributed in big newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

The purchase came after an investment of at least $10 million in Pop-Up last year by the Palo Alto-based Emerson. Pop-Up, which launched in 2014, had previously raised $4 million.

Emerson has made an increasing number of media investments via its for-profit arm over the last two years, including buying a majority stake in Atlantic magazine, as well as large stakes in several Hollywood production companies like Concordia Studio, Anonymous Content and Macro. It has also invested in podcast maker Gimlet Media and internet news site Axios. Emerson — which also focuses on immigration, education and the environment — has also funded a lot of nonprofit journalism organizations, including ProPublica, Mother Jones, Marshall Project, Committee to Protect Journalists and the Texas Observer.

In an interview with Pop-Up founders, Doug McGray and Chas Edwards, the pair said Pop-Up had been considering a range of options to expand its fast-growing event business and magazine distribution.

“We were looking at the rate at which we could pursue our growth and the risk to growing slowly in the current media landscape,” said Edwards, who is president and publisher of Pop-Up.

McGray, who is editor in chief, said that they saw a kindred spirit with Pop-Up’s main investor. “They know us so well and understand that we have always been inspired by the idea of making the most ambitious, inventive journalism we can,” he said.

In a statement, Powell Jobs underscored this link.

“We think the creators and team at Pop-Up Magazine and California Sunday are exciting and innovative. Both magazines have managed to create unique journalistic platforms that help foster empathy and a better understanding of the world,” she said. “Emerson Collective is thrilled to partner with both outlets and share their work with a larger audience.”

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