Save The Onion: Donate $1 or Bid Farewell to Our Favorite Satire!

In a surprising turn of events that has caught the eyes of both the tech and media worlds, Jeff Lawson, the co-founder of the cloud communications giant Twilio, has moved onto a new venture that is quite distinct from his previous technological endeavors. Lawson, who recently stepped down from his position at Twilio amid pressures from activist investors pushing for significant changes, has acquired the iconic yet underperforming satire publication, The Onion.

Under the corporate umbrella of a newly formed entity named Global Tetrahedron, a nod to The Onion’s recurring gag about an evil fictional corporation, Lawson has embarked on a mission to rejuvenate the legendary comedy brand. He chose not to disclose the financial details of the transaction. To steer this new ship, he brought on board former NBC reporter Ben Collins as CEO, ex-Bumble and TikTok executive Leila Brillson as chief marketing officer, and Tumblr’s ex-director of product, Danielle Strle, as chief product officer. In a move that reassured fans and staff of The Onion alike, Lawson committed to retaining the entire editorial crew, promising a transition that respects the publication’s original spirit and wit.

In an unprecedented and somewhat bewildering move, especially coming from someone known for his contributions to the tech industry rather than media, Lawson has called upon The Onion’s readership to donate money. This gesture, seeking “absolutely nothing” in return, was announced with a suggested donation of one dollar. This innovative, if not peculiar, strategy was inspired by WhatsApp’s original business model, which involved charging a one-dollar annual fee—the significance of which, according to WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, was to create a sense of investment and value among its users.

The acquisition comes at a time when The Onion, despite its strong brand and dedicated following, has seen better days. Once a formidable force in satire and comedy, drawing in massive audiences with its sharp wit and biting commentary on social and political issues, The Onion has struggled to maintain its relevance and financial stability amid a rapidly changing digital landscape. Under its previous ownership by G/O Media, it faced challenges that Lawson described as stifling the creative freedom necessary for satire to thrive, including excessive paywalls, intrusive ads, and a focus on traffic over content quality.

Leila Brillson, speaking on the vision for The Onion under its new ownership, emphasized the goal of liberating the publication from these constraints. The aim is to pivot away from a business model overly dependent on page views and ad impressions, thus allowing The Onion to reclaim its identity as an independent satirical voice. This shift represents not just a strategic business decision but a philosophical realignment with the roots of satirical journalism, prioritizing creative freedom and editorial independence over the pursuit of digital traffic metrics.

This bold and unexpected move by Lawson signals a potentially exciting new chapter for The Onion. By combining the resources and leadership from individuals who have thrived both in tech and media, Global Tetrahedron may well succeed in ushering The Onion into an era where it can not only survive but flourish, offering up laughs and incisive social commentary without the encumbrances that have weighed it down in recent years.


Sensi Tech Hub
Shopping cart