Sophia Amoruso’s second act is moving right along.
Girlboss, the media company focused on women entrepreneurship that she founded in 2017 after her first fashion venture Nasty Gal went bankrupt, is being acquired in full by Attention Capital. The investment firm was just founded in August by a trio of media executives: Joe Marchese, formerly of Fox; Nick Bell formerly of Snap Inc., and Ashlyn Gentry, formerly of Palantir. The parties would not disclose terms of the deal, but Girlboss was valued at $13 million in late 2018, its last funding round.
The deal with Attention came about quickly, Amoruso said, in the last three months or so. She was looking at going for another round of funding — “continuing to play the venture capital game,” as she put it — but having been friends with Marchese for several years, their conversations instead turned to a tie-up.
“He’s been one of the biggest mentors to me since I founded Girlboss,” Amoruso said of her friendship with Marchese. “So to be in the company now, with such incredible people and at an early stage, is thrilling.”
Amoruso will remain chief executive officer of Girlboss, which will stay based in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, and its team of 23 full-time staffers will remain intact. But she is looking to Attention to scale the company beyond what she could do independently.
“It’s about the opportunity to be a part of something bigger, to have people around me who have experience building things much larger than anything I’ve ever built,” Amoruso added.
As for how big she wants to go, on a scale between where she is now and Facebook, Amoruso pointed to a site like Medium, started by Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, noting it’s grown through an offering for people with “things in common.”
“People are exhausted by the state of social media today,” she said. “To be able to connect with other women based on not only what you do but who you are, that’s still a massive opportunity.”
Girlboss started off of the success of Amoruso’s first book “#Girlboss,” which has sold about half a million copies. Amoruso noted that she is thinking about writing another book, likely focused on her story of bouncing back after the fall of NastyGal, now under the ownership of U.K.-based Boohoo.
“It’s a good story. I think I need this,” Amoruso said, laughing.
The company has mainly focused on its event business with a twice-yearly rally and other smaller events throughout the year, as well as a podcast that has grown to a slate of five separate shows and a total of 21 million downloads so far. Early this summer, Girlboss launched its own professional social network for women, focused on the company’s general age range of 20s to 30s, but Amoruso declined to say how many members had signed up so far. There was also a short-lived Netflix series, but the company’s business is driven by brand sponsorships from events and ticket sales, along with a small amount of merchandising sales. Expansion of each of these segments is part of Girlboss’ immediate future under Attention.
Ashlyn Gentry, cofounder and managing partner of Attention, said Girlboss is a good first acquisition because it fits well with the firm’s ethos of moving away from media that operates on “antiquated” ideals of engagement. Like ad viewability being based simply on pop-up numbers, or click-based traffic metrics. She noted that Girlboss also passes the “T-shirt test,” meaning it’s a brand that people will buy and wear a T-shirt from.
“Girlboss is commanding value in the market by getting people together IRL,” Gentry said. “They’re convincing women to get on a plane to travel to an event.”
In terms of the business, Gentry said Girlboss is “a growth story” (meaning not yet profitable) and that the focus in the coming months will be to “expand its product offering” and the size of its events and podcast business, along with the sponsored product integration within each.
This will not be the last acquisition for Attention. While Gentry would not offer any details on what size of deals the firm is looking at, she did say that the focus is on “brands that command real attention” and then those that provide some kind of tech infrastructure.
“Absolutely we’ll be doing more acquisitions,” she said.
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