Vox Media, publisher of New York Magazine, is acquiring Group Nine, whose brands include Popsugar, NowThis, Thrillist and the Dodo in an all-stock deal.
The deal, which will create one of the biggest media companies in the U.S. with approximately 2,000 employees, is expected to close early next year and is separate from the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that Group Nine set up last year.
Jim Bankoff will be the chief executive officer and chair of Vox Media, while Group Nine founder and CEO Ben Lerer will join its board and maintain a presence at the company.
“Under Ben’s stewardship, Group Nine has navigated from a scrappy start-up to one of the biggest and most successful publishers in the industry. Much like us, their team has proven to be a leader in both building cherished media brands from the ground-up as well as successfully acquiring and integrating properties. With this acquisition, Vox Media will extend its leadership into new categories, formats and distribution platforms by welcoming more beloved properties into our portfolio,” said Bankoff. “Our combined company will be the premier home for creators, storytellers, journalists, product innovators and businesspeople who want to grow their careers and have an impact through their work. This acquisition will build on and accelerate the leading creative and business strength that both companies already have achieved.”
Lerer added: “We could not be more excited about the opportunity to join forces with Vox Media. This combination will not only create unparalleled scale and revenue diversification, it will bring together some of the most popular brands, premium content, and creative and business talent in the world. There is no one I would trust more to lead this company and the team I love than Jim. He is not only kind and fair, but fearless and focused. This is the beginning of our most exciting chapter
According to reports, the two parties began talking this summer when Group Nine met with a number of companies about a merger through its SPAC with the plan of going public. Bankoff told The New York Times: “Going public may or may not make sense based on market conditions and other factors, and we’ll continue to look at that.”
Last week BuzzFeed, another digital media company, made its public debut through a SPAC, but failed to impress investors, with its stock tumbling by 11 percent on its first day of trading. When BuzzFeed unveiled the SPAC deal in June, it said it could raise around $288 million, but earlier this month revealed that it had $16 million after some investors opted not to participate, although it has about $150 million in debt financing.
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