Group Nine Media Buys PopSugar

Deal gives women-focused digital publisher 30% stake in combined company
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Group Nine Media, the digital media publisher that counts cable programmer Discovery Inc. as its largest shareholder, broadened its portfolio of online news and information sites by agreeing to acquire PopSugar, a digital publisher focused on women’s lifestyle and fashion.

Group Nine Media was created in 2016, after Discovery pumped about $100 million into the company for a 35% stake.  Last month Discovery and German publisher Axel Springer invested another $50 million into Group Nine, beefing up its valuation to more than $600 million.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but reports said that PopSugar shareholders will receive a 30% interest in Group Nine as part of the all-stock deal which values PopSugar at about $300 million.

The Group Nine deal is the latest in a string of purchases in the digital media space over the past several weeks. Earlier this month Vice Media agreed to purchase Refinery29, a women’s lifestyle publisher, for an estimated $400 million in mostly stock and some cash. In late September Vox Media agreed to buy New York Media, publisher of New York magazine, for an estimated $105 million in stock. 

“PopSugar hugely expands our reach within an important demographic, bringing us a community that deeply loves the PopSugar brand and a company with the proven ability to diversify their revenue across premium advertising, affiliate, direct-to-consumer commerce, licensing, and experiential channels,” Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer said in a press release.

Lerer will remain CEO of the combined company while PopSugar CEO Brian Sugar and president Lisa Sugar will join the company’s executive team after the deal closes. Brian Sugar also will receive a seat on the Group Nine board of directors.

The addition of PopSugar will expand Group Nine’s portfolio, currently consisting of animal-focused website Dodo; news site NowThis; travel, food and entertainment site Thrillist; and science site Seeker, to include retail, fashion, fitness, beauty products and packaged goods.

The combined companies will reach a total of 200 million social media followers and advertisers and marketers will be able to tap into Group Nine’s in-house ad agency Brandshop, and PopSugar’s mobile commerce offering Sparkle and Must Have It, which lets advertisers send potential customers offers via SMS.

“Over the past few years, we’ve gotten PopSugar to profitability and found a way to build a well-diversified business that has outlasted many of our competitors in a rapidly evolving space,” PopSugar CEO Brian Sugar said in a press release. “Joining forces with a company and team that has the ambition, momentum, and market leadership of Group Nine, combined with our experience and innovation in commerce and experiential, will allow us to build a scalable business model that sets the standard for the next-generation media company.” 

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