Vox Media is in talks to buy Group Nine Media in a deal that would merge two large digital media companies as the industry continues to consolidate.
In an email Monday to staff at Vox Media, which was consulted by The New York Times, Jim Bankoff, Vox chief executive, said the company was in “advanced talks” to acquire Group Nine.
“Their organization is strong and complementary to ours in many areas, from the topics they cover and the audiences they serve to the formats in which they tell stories and the platforms on which they tell them,” he said. he said in the email, adding that the combination companies would be “the clear leader of modern media.”
Mr Bankoff sent the email after the Wall Street Journal reported possible deal news.
Vox Media, which was co-founded by Mr. Bankoff in 2011, is the publisher of Vox.com, The Verge and SB Nation. He purchased New York Magazine and its related websites in 2019. Group Nine operates the PopSugar, the Dodo, Thrillist, and Seeker lifestyle websites.
Mr. Bankoff said in the email that Group Nine has more than 240 million social media followers and more than 6 billion videos viewed each month.
“The business rationale for this merger is to increase revenue, increase scale and combine these incredibly powerful and complementary portfolios,” Mr. Bankoff said in the email.
He added that the agreement was not yet signed, “but we expect it to be soon.”
“Between now and when the deal is done, in early 2022, we will operate as two completely separate companies,” he said.
Mr. Bankoff added that Ben Lerer, the founder and managing director of Group Nine, would move to the board of directors of Vox Media, adding that there were “no immediate plans to go public.”
Digital media companies have been looking for ways to reimburse investors and compete with Google and Facebook in an increasingly difficult advertising market. BuzzFeed, known for both quizzes and reporting, went public last week when it merged with a so-called blank check company. Its stock, which opened its first day of trading on Dec.6 at $ 10.95, was trading at around $ 6.20 on Monday.
Group Nine had previously expressed interest in an IPO, setting up its own blank check company, known as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company or SPAC, in December 2020.
A wave of consolidation has swept through digital media in recent years. BuzzFeed announced in November 2020 that it would acquire HuffPost from Verizon Media. In 2019, Vice Media acquired female lifestyle publisher Refinery29 and Group Nine purchased PopSugar.