Penske Media Corporation (PMC) announced a strategic investment in Vox Media, the digital publisher whose brands include Vox.com, New York Magazine, Popsugar, Thrillist, Vulture and SB Nation.
With the investment, PMC (whose properties include Variety) will become Vox Media’s largest single shareholder. Otherwise, the financial terms of the investment were not disclosed. The two companies said they will continue to operate independently. As part of the deal, PMC CEO and founder Jay Penske will join the board of directors at Vox Media.
PMC is investing $100 million in Vox Media, which will give PMC a 20% stake in the company, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources. Previous investors in Vox have included NBCUniversal, Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures and General Atlantic.
News of PMC’s deal with Vox Media comes less than a month after Vox Media said it was laying off 7% of its employees, eliminating about 130 jobs.
“I have long admired Vox Media’s world-class editorial teams and brands,” Penske said in a statement. “We deeply respect the track record of both [Vox Media CEO] Jim Bankoff and the senior leadership team at Vox, and the company’s remarkable growth over the last decade. The Penske Media and Vox Media alliance will further cement both companies as leaders in modern media and take advantage of new opportunities at scale. Our two companies share a similar history of organic and acquisitive growth over time, and it made sense to invest for the future.”
Bankoff said in a statement, “We couldn’t ask for a better partner than Jay and Penske Media to invest in our company’s future success, and help us build on and accelerate the leading creative and business strength across our organization. In addition, this investment by Penske Media will allow Vox Media to continue scaling its existing brands and operations, while providing resources for future acquisitions, and is another step forward in the ongoing ascent of Vox Media.”
LionTree acted as financial adviser to Vox Media, while White & Case LLP acted as its outside legal adviser. Morgan Lewis served as PMC’s legal adviser, in addition to Panarae Group, which acted as a corporate adviser.
In addition to Variety, PMC brands include Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Dick Clark Productions, WWD, SHE Media, Robb Report, Deadline, Sportico, BGR, ARTnews, Fairchild Media, Vibe, IndieWire, Dirt, Artforum, Gold Derby, Spy.com and Luminate. In addition, PMC owns cultural events including SXSW, LA3C, Life is Beautiful, Latin Music Week and ATX Television Festival.
Vox Media in December 2021 merged with Group Nine Media, a digital media roll-up venture whose backers had included Discovery. That came after Vox Media in 2019 acquired New York Media, publisher of New York Magazine, in an all-stock deal designed to gain synergies of scale. The company’s portfolio of brands comprises Curbed, The Cut, The Dodo, Eater, Grub Street, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, NowThis, Polygon, Popsugar, Recode, SB Nation, Seeker, The Strategist, Thrillist, The Verge, Vox.com and Vulture.
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