Business

Swampscott native sells sports website

This screengrab from barstoolsports.com shows a press conference on Thursday in New York City announcing the sale of the website to the Chernin Group.

BY GABE MARTINEZ

NEW YORK–The controversial Boston-based website Barstoolsports.com has been sold to an outside media group.

Swampscott native Dave Portnoy, the former majority owner of Barstool Sports, sold his shares of the website to the Chernin Group.

“About six months ago negotiations started taking place,” said Portnoy. “We were approached by a friend of former Kentucky Wildcat quarterback Ja­red Lorenzen who was interested in investing in Barstool.”

Quickly after this initial approach, Portnoy met with Mike Kerns, who is the Chernin Group president and former head of social media at Yahoo. The pair met in Boston, where Kerns pushed for the investment.

Barstool has been ap­proached about investment many times throughout the last five years. Portnoy, or as he’s known to the website’s loyal readers, El Presidente, was worried that the site would change its tone and content if an outside investment came in.

“I would not have done the deal if I was even .0001 percent worried that the site was going to change,” said Portnoy. “The reason they’re attracted to us is they love our voice, and their No. 1 concern was keeping the brand the same.”

Portnoy always had confidence that the Chernin Group would have the best vision for Barstool.

“The first time we met them I thought these could be the people that were going to buy us.”

Barstool Sports has bloggers all throughout the Northeast, with verticals in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, The Baltimore-Washington metro area, Iowa and one site focusing on colleges.

With the new investment, the majority of Barstool employees will relocate to New York City. Portnoy and The Chernin Group believe that having all of the employees in a central office will produce better content.

Although Portnoy will no longer have total control, he along with his team at Barstool will remain in control of their content. The website, which is popular with young men between the ages of 18-34, focuses on sports, girls, gambling and viral videos.

Portnoy, who lives in Boston with his wife Renee, will be making the move to New York with his employees. The avid sports and horse gambler is excited to be living close to Belmont Park.

Saratoga is about as far away from New York as it is Boston, but I will definitely be making it to Belmont,” said Portnoy.

More Stories From Swampscott