Hearst and Verizon have entered into a 50-50 venture to buy Complex for an undisclosed sum. The companies have essentially upped their respective stakes in the Millennial-focused video company cofounded by Marc Ecko.
A spokeswoman for Complex said Ecko would remain at the company in the role of chief branding officer.
In September, Hearst said it invested $21 million in Complex to allow it to grow its core publishing business in the digital landscape. Verizon has been in the process of building its digital businesses with a recent investment in Vice in June and a $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in May. The telecoms company also is said to be in the lead position to acquire Yahoo.
Although Hearst and Verizon will jointly own Complex, the company will still be led by Complex chief executive officer and cofounder Rich Antoniello.
Complex has seen a profit since 2010, claimed Hearst, adding the company will “develop premium video content for distribution across Verizon digital platforms, including AOL.com and go90.” From October to March, Complex, which includes dozens of lifestyle and entertainment sites, logged an average of 51.2 million unique visitors, according to ComScore. For the same six-month period, Complex.com lured 18.2 million monthly uniques.
The announcement follows a recent investment by Hearst and Verizon in AwesomenessTV. Each company owns a 24.5 percent stake, with DreamWorks Animation owning the rest. The two companies also formed a 50-50 venture in March to build a multiplatform digital video channel targeting the mobile Millennial audience. That venture is launching two initial channels dubbed RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV.
LionTree Advisors advised the Complex deal, which is expected to close within the next 60 days.