Group Nine Media secures $50 million in new funding after shaking up its sales leadership to jumpstart its revenue

Group Nine Media raised another $50 million in new funding from lead investor Discovery and Axel Springer, which is Business Insider's parent company. The additional funding values Group Nine at $600 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Group Nine Media formed in 2016 by rolling up Thrillist, The Dodo, NowThis, and Seeker in 2016, when Discovery put $100 million into the company.

The company said the new funds would be used to fuel its video and newly launched commerce division and for potential acquisitions.

The company recently shook up its sales leadership, replacing CRO Todd Anderman, who is leaving after more than six years at the digital media company.

Read more: Billions from VC companies like Lerer Hippeau and Lightspeed fueled the rise of digital media and stoked crazy expectations for growth — here's why insiders say that approach is killing companies

With Anderman leaving, Group Nine is installing three execs to head sales and marketing: Rachel Baumgarten, EVP of marketing; Kavata Mbondo, EVP of business operations; and Adam Shlachter, chief client officer. They'll operate as a team, reporting to Christa Carone, Group Nine's president, who herself comes from an agency and marketing background.

The idea is that the trio's experience working with big clients on the agency side will help Group Nine get bigger budgets from large ad spenders that span custom content, sponsorships, and the like. Shlachter is a digital agency veteran while Baumgarten is a vet of Viacom and Omnicom Media Group, for example.

"There's never been a better opportunity to build and define your brand on mobile, so we're thrilled to have this talented trifecta of complementary industry veterans positioned to seamlessly help our clients drive their narrative and break through the clutter," Carone said in a statement.

Group Nine, headed by Ben Lerer, was formed on Lerer's belief that consolidation is coming to digital media and that Group Nine could be a leader in digital video. It took a big step in that direction earlier this year, creating NowThis Originals, a 25-person group to make original video to sell to distribution platforms.

Digital media companies are trying to get to profitability

Many heavily-backed digital media companies are struggling to get to profitability, and many media watchers assume that some of these companies will merge to cut costs so they can keep operating. Rumors have swirled that Group Nine was in serious talks to merge with Refinery29, a women's lifestyle media company. Group Nine has been trying to diversify its revenue, particularly into e-commerce.

Group Nine hasn't disclosed if it's profitable. It's valued at $500 million, based on Discovery valuing its 42% stake of the company at $212 million. Discovery has an option to buy the remaining stake in the company but hasn't exercised it.

Anderman became Group Nine CRO in January 2018 after starting in sales roles at Thrillist. In a LinkedIn post, he didn't indicate if he had another job lined up:

After an amazing 6 1/2 years, I am moving on from Group Nine Media/Thrillist. It's been an awesome ride, and I'm so proud of everything that we built together…at first at Thrillist, and then to the formation of Group Nine Media, which is now one of the largest digital-first publishers in the world. A big thank you to everyone at Group Nine – it's been an honor and a privilege to work with such a talented and passionate team and it's been a blast to build this business together.

So what's next for me? I'm going to take a hot minute to enjoy the summer with family and friends. I just signed up for a new gym membership that I actually plan on using more than once. Going to hang out with my college-bound son (as much as he allows me to) before he heads off to school, and I'm going to recharge my batteries before I jump into my next adventure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *