The Betoota Advocate’s former publisher in talks to leave satirical site

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The Betoota Advocate’s former publisher, colourful Sydney media investor Piers Grove, is in talks to leave the satirical news site and sell his stake in the brand.

Founded in 2014, Betoota has grown from a single webpage with a self-consciously ocker take on comedic headlines into a fully fledged media business with 1 million Instagram followers, a podcast, clothing line and upcoming television show.

Piers Grove is looking to sell his share in the Betoota Advocate.Credit: Scout Publishing

Grove stepped down as publisher of Betoota in December 2021, when he became publisher of youth news site Junkee, but retained a minority share and a directorship.

Both sides cast Grove’s decision to leave as amicable, despite rumours of a falling out. “He’s had a tough run with his health,” said Antony Stockdale, Betoota’s commercial chief. “He’s told us he wants to leave and we’re going to do that in the best way for Betoota and for him.”

Betoota would be happy if Grove had stayed, Stockdale said, while Grove confirmed that he was looking for potential purchasers so he could exit the business.

“I’ve remained a shareholder longer than I usually do because I have a love of Betoota and the team, but it’s time to move on to new projects,” Grove said via email from New York, where he is honeymooning.

“I certainly did have a stroke this time last year, but I have enjoyed a full recovery and I’ve been back at work since the new year at 100 per cent health,” Grove said. He said he was focusing on green projects, including start-up initiatives Impact Ventures, EnergyLab and Boomerang Labs, and would announce more initiatives soon.

Grove has had a tumultuous period in business. He agreed to leave Junkee in late 2022 after settling a financial dispute with his business partners in that venture. Grove’s decision to take the role with Junkee also triggered his exit from another youth media business, the Instagram-focused Daily Aus.

“I was a reluctant seller of The Daily Aus – another team I’m incredibly proud of – but there was some conflict of interests with me leading Junkee, and it was best to exit the business and allow other more active shareholders to step in,” Grove said.

Betoota editors Clancey Overell (left) and Errol Parker (right) met with now-minister Jason Clare, independent MP Bob Katter and former Labor MP Mike Kelly in 2016.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Records from the corporate regulator, ASIC, accessed on Sunday show Grove’s company 118 Holdings has two of the 18 shares in the entity that runs Betoota, which is called Diamantina Consolidated Holdings.

Two disillusioned former journalists, Archer Hamilton and Charles Single, started Betoota in 2014 with Grove as publisher. Hamilton and Single, who go by their comedic pseudonyms Clancy Overell and Errol Parker, still edit the site and remain majority owners, according to the ASIC filings.

Much larger online publishers that surged in the 2010s along with Betoota have struggled this year as a weaker display advertising market compounds previous decisions from social media giants to direct traffic away from news. Vice Media filed for bankruptcy in May while BuzzFeed closed its news division in April. Advertising company Ooh!Media sold Junkee in 2021 to the syndicate involving Grove for a reported $3 million, representing a steep loss on what it had paid for the site years before.

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