Bustle Digital Group has gotten itself another floundering digital media brand to rebuild.
The company revealed Wednesday night that it has purchased The Outline, a Millennial-focused, general interest news site that last fall abruptly laid off its entire writing staff, while an outright closure was rumored imminent. The brand was only founded in 2016 and in the year before it went staff-free, said it was valued at $21 million by investors who had given it $5 million in a round of funding.
BDG did not reveal what it paid for the site, but anything near that valuation is doubtful. In two investment rounds, it gathered about $10 million. Whatever the price BDG paid, it seems founder and chief executive officer Bryan Goldberg is looking at The Outline as more of an ad-tech play than an editorial one.
“The Outline has created industry-leading technology and ad product,” Goldberg wrote in a statement on the deal.
He added his appreciation of the site “as an independent, story-driven publication,” but said he’s looking forward “to working together to speak to new audiences that BDG has not previously reached.”
Goldberg told WWD last year that, even with all the talk of paywalls and subscriptions for digital media, “Advertising is the business model, because it’s an excellent model for those who know what they are doing.”
“To that end, the boutique media brands will need to sit under a larger corporate umbrella,” Goldberg said then, referring to his own strategy of buying up small, troubled assets. He called it “the LVMH model” and said that’s the future of the industry — fewer, bigger companies overseeing and operating more brands.
As for Joshua Topolsky, founder of The Outline, he “can’t wait” to join BDG.
“Bryan and the company have built an impressive modern media business and we’re excited to be part of the next chapter,” Topolsky wrote in a statement.
This is the third time in about six months that Goldberg has snapped up a site that was either dormant or about to be. BDG bought Gawker after years in bankruptcy limbo and then bought Mic, not long after it, too, fired its staff and shut down.