In July 2013, FiveThirtyEight was sold to ESPN, and Silver became its Editor in Chief. The ESPN-owned FiveThirtyEight launched on March 17, 2014. The site focused on a broad range of subjects under the rubric of "data journalism".
Silver was born in East Lansing, Michigan, the son of Sally (née Thrun), a community activist, and Brian David Silver, a former chair of the political science department at Michigan State University. Silver's mother's family, of English and German descent, includes several distinguished men and women, including his maternal great-grandfather, Harmon Lewis, who was president of the Alcoa Steamship Company, Inc. Silver has described himself as "half-Jewish".
Silver showed a proficiency in math from a young age. According to journalist William Hageman, "Silver caught the baseball bug when he was 6.... It was 1984, the year the Detroit Tigers won the World Series. The Tigers became his team and baseball his sport. And if there's anything that goes hand in glove with baseball, it's numbers, another of Silver's childhood interests ("It's always more interesting to apply it to batting averages than algebra class").