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Wired was founded in 1993 by a group, led by Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, that became known as Wired Ventures. In 1998, Rossetto and Metcalfe lost control of the magazine to a group of investors who sold it to Conde Nast.
In 1994, Wired launched HotWired, the first commercial web magazine, which eventually was renamed Wired News. Wired News was sold to the search engine Lycos in 1998, shortly after the magazine was purchased by Conde Nast. For eight years, Wired News was owned by a different company from Wired, despite being the magazine’s online presence. In 2006, Conde Nast bought Wired News, though the magazine and its website remain separate entities.
While Wired.com had languished over its last few years under Lycos, its traffic rose quickly under Conde Nast. The magazine’s circulation has steadily increased over the past decade, though its ad pages declined sharply in early 2009. They had flattened by 2012, while digital advertising revenue equaled print for the first time. In 2013, it launched Amplifi, a unit devoted to native advertising.
Wired Digital also runs the social news website Reddit — bought by Conde Nast in 2006 — and the popular tech blog Ars Technica, a 2008 Conde Nast purchase. Wired’s U.K. division also runs a consulting division.
While Wired was critically acclaimed in both the 1990s and 2000s, it reinvented itself for mainstream audiences under editor Chris Anderson after the dot-com bust of the early 2000s, going from a strictly tech-oriented magazine to more of a culture-of-tech magazine.
Wired released its much-anticipated iPad app in May 2010. The app was initially free, with single issues costing $3.99. The April 2011 issue was made free as part of a sponsorship deal with Adobe. In May 2011, Conde Nast announced a deal with Apple that would allow in-app subscriptions for its magazines, including Wired. In-app subscriptions were available for Wired starting with the June 2011 issue. The app had 84,000 subscribers in the second half of 2012, putting it in the top 25 of magazines overall.
In March 2007, Wired launched Assignment Zero, a citizen-journalism project focused on crowdsourcing in various areas of modern life. The project, run in conjunction with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, was one of the first large-scale crowdsourced journalism efforts ever attempted.
After encountering serious logistical and organizational difficulties with its more than 800 volunteers, the experiment folded that July after producing about 80 essays, interviews, and stories.
Topix is a network of aggregated local news and community forums. Topix was launched in 2004 in Palo Alto, Calif., by the founders of the Open Directory Project. Three newspaper companies — Gannett, Knight-Ridder, and the Tribune Co. — each bought a quarter of the company in 2005. The site claims about 125 million page…