Chalk one up for middle-aged mundanity over the edgy glamour of youth. Disney will pay around $40 million for Babble Media, the oft-maligned blogging hub for hipster parents, sources tell Business Insider. Disney will also onboard Babble's founders, whose hyperliterate porn mag Nerve was a critical smash but never very financially successful.
Nerve co-founder Rufus Griscom and former Nerve sales VP Alisa Volkman will join Disney Interactive Group as part of the transaction, BI says. Give the kiddie-friendly media conglomerate credit for taking in highbrow skin traffickers; despite what Disney's top shareholder once said, consuming smut is not incompatible with having kids. Indeed, the old joke about Nerve and its spinoff Babble was that enthusiastically following the advice of the former would eventually convert you into a reader of the latter.
But this transaction does give boring old scolds one advantageous talking point, which is that predictable family media pays, and smart erotica doesn't.
Nerve has been showered with critical praise since its 1997 founding. The New York Times, in two of many items on Nerve, called the online magazine "sexy" and praised its "impressive roster of writers." Wired called it "a potent combination.... a refuge for provocative work" while quoting raves from authors Naomi Wolf and Nicholson Baker. But Nerve has yet to hit any sort of fiscal jackpot, and in fact two years ago a new CEO, in an effort to drum up revenue, planned to banish naked pics from its archives and tone the sexy down to be "more like the nudity that appears in the New Yorker" (!!?!).
Babble, meanwhile, drew annoyance and mockery—disclaimer: much of it from us!—for its parenting items, like the one from the mom who loved her son more than her daughter, the one about the playdate from hell, the one about "breast milk siblings, and even some hypothetical topics its founders imagned tackling. But the haters can suck it, because Rufus will be retiring on all that mommy-daddy pap. Sometimes it pays to be a bit of a cliché.