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Food52, the recipes + cookware site founded by a former New York Times food columnist, is gobbled up

The Chernin Group is buying a majority stake in Amanda Hesser’s startup for $83 million.

Food52 CEO Amanda Hesser holding a large open book and backed by a wall of large glittery balloons.
Food52 CEO Amanda Hesser at a 2016 book party
Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Food52, a recipe and cookware site co-founded by former New York Times columnist Amanda Hesser, has a new owner. The Chernin Group, the media investment and production company started by former News Corp executive Peter Chernin, has bought the startup.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chernin paid $83 million for a majority stake in the company; a rep for the company says the deal values Food52 at more than $100 million. Hesser and co-founder Merrill Stubbs had raised around $20 million in funding, including a debt round, since 2010, per PitchBook.

That’s a nice and somewhat surprising outcome for Food52, which faced competition from around the internet over the course of its lifetime: You can get recipes everywhere, you can buy cookware and other kitchen supplies anywhere, and lots of places let you do both at the same time. The Food Network, for instance, just launched another service with a similar idea. But Food52’s commerce business has picked up in recent years, according to people familiar with the company.

The deal does fit in with the direction The Chernin Group has been headed: The company, which once had plans to put together a very big internet conglomerate after acquiring an anchor brand like Hulu, has instead been buying and building a stable of internet companies aimed at distinct audiences, all of which rely on revenue streams beyond internet advertising. Chernin has invested in Headspace, for instance, which sells subscriptions to its meditation app; it also owns a majority stake in Barstool Sports, which sells branded booze and is getting into sports betting.

Both Hesser and Stubbs will stay with their company following the sale.

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