From the New York Times news article about the New York Times Company's acquisition of the Athletic, a sports news website that the Times says has 400 newsroom employees, "in an all cash deal valued at $550 million.":
The Athletic brought in about $65 million in revenue last year, with operating losses of roughly $55 million, Ms. Levien told analysts Thursday.
Plenty of companies lose money for years in growth mode and then eventually become profitable, though some also never do. In the meantime, though, if annual operating losses of $55 million on revenues of $65 million yield a valuation of $550 million...well, no wonder that a star Times employee like Ben Smith would leave to start his own new thing. Maybe sports are something different because fans are so passionate about it and there is a potential gambling tie in. Or maybe the Times is just overpaying for a money-losing startup to try to give the stock market the illusion that it is a digital growth company rather than a legacy news business.