Friend-finding app Vina is pushing further into editorial content and is bringing on publishing veteran Cathie Black as an adviser, along with Brittany Galla as its new content director.
Since it in 2016 gathered $2 million in seed funding from dating app Tinder, part of IAC-controlled Match Group, and a group of other angel and fund investors, including New Enterprise Associates, Vina has started Vinazine, a web site with female-centric content. Although Vina is out funding for its Series A, it’s already looking to make editorial content a bigger part of its platform and looking to expand into events and paid memberships as well as folding in branded content into Vinazine. There are upcoming “multitiered” partnerships with Her Campus and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.
Black, who launched several publications during her 15 years as president of Hearst Magazines (a role that’s up for grabs again as her successor David Carey is set to retire this year) would appear to be a good adviser for anyone looking to editorial expansion. Since leaving in 2010 her executive role at Hearst, Black has been focused on working with women entrepreneurs and she thinks Vina, launched in 2015 by Olivia June, has a lot of potential.
“They have a lot of growth ahead of them,” Black said. “I know the power of community and speaking to women about what they’re interested in.”
She added that as traditional magazines keep adapting to a digital format, something that few, if any, have yet perfected, all of them will need to be “multipronged” in their output and how they let readers interact.
“It’s not going to be one-size-fits-all,” Black said.
As for layering a fuller editorial platform onto a friend-finding app, its founder June said the prospect has been driven by users. It started with lengthy e-mail answers to user questions about using Vina, but also about navigating female friendships, that were posted to a Vina help blog.
“We started getting so much readership, so we started to add it into the app,” June said. “Fifty percent of daily active users were reading content within the app.”
But more readers are always better and Vina seems to be aiming for younger women. Galla, who left her role as editorial director of Bauer Media’s teen group in May, wrote in a statement that she’s planning to “help the brand define its content strategy to engage and connect with an audience that I’m deeply in tune with and understand.”
When asked when or whether Vinazine would become a revenue-generating part of the platform, Black interjected with some advice that she received earlier in her career as a publisher for USA Today, telling June, “Don’t say more than you know.”
With that, June said she’s happy to “have the support of being funded by venture capital,” which allows Vina to be “very protective” of its site — for now.
June said the funding round is going well and that Vina has “a ways to go” before big questions like steady revenue, profitability or even being acquired become imperatives.
“We have very large ambitions, we’ll put it that way,” Black said.
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