After spinning out JackThreads, Thrillist focused on the growth opportunity in digital media as ad dollars continued to shift to digital platforms. It quickly became apparent that even for a brand of the size and scale of Thrillist, a much larger audience was going to be required in the future to compete for ad dollars. The ad sales team, and Thrillist’s internal brand studio, could deliver far more revenue if we could grow our engaged audience across our websites and social platforms.
The question was whether to build or buy that growth. Either approach could be expensive. Building an audience organically would require more content, new verticals, and perhaps even launching new brands. On the other hand, buying established brands to acquire their audiences would be expensive as the valuations of digital media companies continued to climb.
Rather than build or buy, we realized we could combine the complementary strengths of three brands, Thrillist, NowThis, and The Dodo, to create a media holding company with tremendous scale and revenue potential. Thrillist brought its proprietary CMS, email prowess, and fully scaled ad sales team and internal agency. NowThis and The Dodo brought video production and social publishing prowess. This idea proved to be a compelling pitch, and in October 2016, Discovery Communications contributed their media brand Seeker and invested $100 million to complete the creation of Group Nine Media.
The simultaneous merger of the four brands and Discovery’s investment catapulted Group Nine to the top of the digital media industry, unlocking new revenue and audience growth opportunities across all four brands. We also dramatically improved the company’s margin profile by consolidating the technology and operations teams at the Group level.
In October 2019, Group Nine used its growing valuation to close an all-stock transaction to acquire PopSugar, a leading women’s lifestyle publisher.
In December 2021, it was announced that Group Nine and Vox would merge, further solidifying the competitive positioning and value of the combined group of premium media brands.