“The “NewsBeast” merger — orchestrated by Barry Diller and Newsweek’s owner, the late audio mogul and philanthropist Sidney Harman — was one of necessity for both men. Newsweek had been rudderless since Harman bought it last August for $1 from the Washington Post Company and assumed $40 million in liabilities. Diller meanwhile was in the same boat as anyone trying to make a stand-alone Web site profitable. Ideally, The Beast would mimic the success of The Huffington Post, the Web site that Brown’s friend Arianna Huffington hawked to AOL for $315 million in February. But HuffPo has what The Beast lacks: a tribal identity, one that draws 31 million monthly visitors. With the Newsweek deal, Diller and Brown tethered The Beast to a print landmass — albeit a fairly scorched one — and avoided having to answer the inevitable question of whether The Beast by itself could ever be a viable business.
Before taking the job, Brown extracted from Harman a hard-won promise that she would have editorial control at Newsweek. Harman’s death on April 12 from acute myeloid leukemia robs Newsweek of an informed and deeply involved owner. “I’d got really fond of him,” Brown said. “He was lovely, feisty and funny.” Harman, for his part, had clearly been charmed by Brown, calling her “my beauty.” Harman’s wife, the former California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, has taken his place on the Newsweek Daily Beast Company board and has said the Harman family will continue her husband’s investment.”