Verizon-Hearst JV Buying Complex

Say deal will expand content portfolio targeting millennial audiences
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Just weeks after forming a digital video joint venture, Verizon and Hearst said they have inked a deal to acquire Complex, the company behind a network of sites focused on American pop culture and young men.

Verizon and Hearst are acquiring Complex under a 50/50 ownership structure, believing the deal will help them expand a digital content portfolio that targets millennial audiences. It also follows Verizon’s recent agreement to purchase a 24.5% interest in AwesomenessTV.

Founded in 2002, Complex’s sites cover areas spanning entertainment news, sneakers and hip hop music, to food, fashion, sports and technology. They said Complex, which is focused on the millennial male segment, has been profitable since 2010, and currently reaches more than 50 million unique monthly visitors. Complex also handles 300 million monthly views, up 415% from a year ago, they said.

In addition to the acquisition, Complex is also tasked with developing premium video content for Verizon’s digital platforms, including go90 and AOL.com.

Hearst and Verizon formed Verizon Hearst Media Partners in March and announced work on their first two “channels”: RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV.

“The decision to acquire Complex is certainly a continuation of our media strategy, which is focused on disruption that is occurring in digital media and content distribution, and involves building a portfolio of the emerging digital brands of the future for the millennial and Gen-Z audience,” said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s senior vice president of consumer product and marketing, in a statement. “When we look at Complex and how well they’ve built audiences by championing the digital convergence of cultures for well over a decade, it pairs well with our strategic vision and current shifts in content consumption.”

LionTree Advisors acted as advisor to Complex on the deal, which is expected to close within the next 60 days 

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