A billionaire doctor just bought the LA Times for $500m. Who is he?
Yesterday, media conglomerate Tronc sold the Los Angeles Times (along with its “sibling paper,” The San Diego Union-Tribune) for $500m.
The buyer, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, is the latest in a procession of billionaires who’ve snatched up large media companies in recent years — but you probably haven’t heard his name.
Soon-Shiong began his career as a transplant surgeon but later branched into biotechnology, where he made the bulk of his $7.8B fortune.
He founded multiple billion-dollar biotech firms focused on diabetes and cancer research — some of which has been accused of “stretching the truth” on occasion.
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For Soon-Shiong, the Times purchase is the culmination of a multi-year effort: he first invested in Tronc (the Times’ holding company) in 2016, after unsuccessfully trying to buy the paper multiple times.
For the Times, it’s the dawn of a new era
The Times, now 136 years old, had been owned by one family until being purchased by Tribune Publishing (later Tronc) in 2000.
Since then, the paper has struggled: it’s been through 3 editors in the past 6 months, its publisher has been accused of sexual harassment, and its newsroom staff has dipped from around 1.2k to 400.
Now, the 44-time Pulitzer-winning institution is banking on the same strategy as the Washington Post (Jeff Bezos), The Boston Globe (John Henry), and the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Glen Taylor): it’s hoping a billionaire will turn the ship around.