All Things D founders Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg launch Re/code with new investors.
FORTUNE — “Who are the investors?”
It’s a question I’ve heard nonstop since we first reported back in August that Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, co-executive editors of influential tech site AllThingsD, had hired an investment bank to help explore the possibility of forming their own independent company, once their existing contract with Dow Jones expired on December 31. And the pestering only intensified the following month, when the pending split was made official.
At the time, we reported that Swisher and Mossberg were in talks with two prospective investors, one of which was Comcast CMCSA subsidiary NBCUniversal. But soon there were rumors that Hearst also was in the mix, and that various hedge fund managers and venture capitalists had come knocking. Then a long period of silence, even as the clock kept ticking toward the end of AllThingsD and this morning’s launch of what is being called Re/code.
So, let’s end the mystery: In an interview, Swisher and Mossberg tell Fortune that their new company’s two investors are the NBCUniversal News Group (yay, got it right) and Terry Semel’s Windsor Media (oops, never even sniffed that one). Each group took an equal minority equity stake somewhere south of 25% for an undisclosed amount. Swisher and Mossberg seem confident that the actual dollar details can remain confidential because they structured the parent company (Revere Digital) as an LLC, although my guess is that the Delaware Division of Corporations may have a different sentiment.
“It was a real learning experience,” Swisher says of the investment process. “You really got a sense of how deals ebb and flow over very small things, and how important the human element is.”
Mossberg adds: “Quincy Smith [the pair’s lead investment banker] told us from the beginning how central the chemistry factor would be when choosing investors, and it kept surprising me how right he was about that.”
In addition to its investment, NBCUniversal has signed a separate operational agreement that will, among other things, provide it with access to Re/code content and codify NBCNews as the new company’s preferred media partner. That means you should expect to be seeing lots of Swisher and Mossberg on CNBC, MSNBC and NBC News properties like The Today Show.
“This gives us an expanded and deeper presence in Silicon Valley, and they are just the best in this space,” says Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group. She adds that Re/code will complement an expanded NBCNews.com tech vertical that recently began staffing up, but that the two organizations will operate independent of one another.
The Windsor Media relationship is more about advice than synergy, with Swisher and Mossberg expected to regularly bend the ear of group founder Terry Semel, a onetime Warner Brothers chairman who is best known for running Yahoo YHOO between April 2001 and June 2007. (And, yes, there is all sorts of irony that Kara Swisher’s new venture is being funded with Yahoo-related riches. Swisher is notorious in media circles for breaking so much news about Yahoo that the board went out of its way to make sure she didn’t learn about Marissa Mayer becoming CEO, and have also taken various other unsuccessful defensive maneuvers to thwart her.)
Both Semel and Fili-Krushel acknowledge that Re/code’s conference business is what currently fuels margin, but that they see additional revenue opportunity on the content side as well. Neither had previously entered into serious negotiations to back another tech-focused media property.
The new conference series will be headlined by something called The Code, which is basically the successor to the D conferences (same time, same place). As for editorial, the entire All Things D staff has moved over to Re/code — and new hires include managing editor Ken Li (formerly of Reuters) and new tech policy reporter James Temple (ex-San Francisco Chronicle).
As for AllThingsD, the URL is now redirecting to The Wall Street Journal’s revamped technology site. The archives, owned by Dow Jones, remains online.
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