When Mr. Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a handful of weeklies from Tribune Publishing Co. TPCO -0.06% , then called Tronc Inc., in 2018, it was met with great fanfare from staff and media watchers after years of turmoil and downsizing at the publications. At the time, he said that the sale represented the beginning of a new era and that he intended to do what it took to make the business viable for the next 100 years.
He has since grown dissatisfied with the news organization’s slow expansion of its digital audience and its substantial losses, the people said. He also has increasingly come to believe that the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune—together known as the California Times company—would be better served if they were part of a larger media group, they said.
Mr. Soon-Shiong has been heavily focused on efforts by his immunotherapy company to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and has had little time to devote to the Times, people familiar with the matter said. “Covid really brought him back to the lab,” said one of the people.
Mr. Soon-Shiong didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment and a spokeswoman for the Times had no immediate comment.