Jeff Zucker’s media venture, RedBird IMI, is exploring a majority stake in Graydon Carter’s startup Air Mail, The New York Times reported.
RedBird IMI, which has $1 billion in backing from private-equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments, was formed to acquire and build companies in media, sports, and entertainment. It is one of three investors circling Air Mail, according to the Times.
Carter, who spent 25 years leading Condé Nast’s Vanity Fair, launched Air Mail — “a lively digital weekly for the world citizen,” per its website — in 2019. The company raised $17 million in a series B funding round in December 2021, Axios reported, bringing its total fundraise at the time to $32 million. RedBird participated in that round, which was led by Standard Investments and also included TPG Growth.
In May 2021, as he was seeking investors for the series B, Carter told Insider he expected Air Mail to reach profitability in three years.
Zucker was named CEO of RedBird IMI in December 2022, less than a year after his ouster from CNN shocked the network and the media industry. Zucker’s exit came after he disclosed a consensual romantic relationship with a colleague.
Zucker’s successor, CNN CEO Chris Licht, was chosen by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav to lead the network with a mission to provide less partisan reporting. Licht has faced plunging ratings, talent dramas, and a barrage of criticism of his leadership, particularly after the network hosted a town hall with former President Donald Trump.
Zaslav has repeatedly defended Licht and his mission, but a profile of the embattled CNN CEO in The Atlantic revealed concern over Licht’s leadership in the network’s newsroom and beyond.
During the Cannes Film Festival in May, Zaslav and Carter cohosted a star-packed party celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Warner Bros. movie studio. The two executives told the Times they shared a long friendship and collaborated closely on the event.Representatives for Zucker and Carter did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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