Group Nine Raises $50 Million From Discovery And Axel Springer For IP, Commerce Division, Acquisitions

By 09/09/2019
Group Nine Raises $50 Million From Discovery And Axel Springer For IP, Commerce Division, Acquisitions

Group Nine Media has added to its coffers with $50 million in fresh funding.

The round was led by Discovery, Inc. with participation from German digital publisher Axel Springer SE. Group Nine — which was formed in Dec. 2016 upon a $100 million investment by Discovery — is the parent company of four digital video brands: animal-focused The Dodo, progressive news channel NowThis, food and travel brand Thrillist, and Seeker, which is dedicated to science.

The round brings total funds raised by Group Nine to $190 million and values the company at $600 million, The Wall Street Journal reports. Both Discovery and Axel Springer will retain minority stakes in Group Nine.

Group Nine and Discovery have extensively partnered to co-sell linear, mobile, and experiential ad campaigns. The two companies also team on cross-platform content initiatives, as well as social content surrounding flagship Discovery programming like Shark Week and Inside the Royal Wedding. Axel Springer is also no stranger to Group Nine as an early investor in Thrillist and NowThis. Prior to this round, Discovery, Axel Springer, and VC firm Lerer Hippeau invested $40 million into Group Nine in November 2017. (Lerer Hippeau founder Kenneth Lerer is the father of Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer, who is pictured above).

Since Group Nine’s rollup in 2016, the company has doubled revenues from advertising, content sales, and licensing, it says. It has also signed production deals with more than 20 different distributors, including Discovery, Netflix, and Comedy Central. New funds will be allocated for IP investments across Group Nine’s brands, to fuel its new commerce division, and for potential acquisitions, according to the company.

“In a rapidly changing industry, it’s easy to get distracted,” Ben Lerer said in statement. “Our commitment to executing on our original vision has been a real advantage that has allowed us to build best-in-class brands supported by a mature multi-brand infrastructure. This strong vote of confidence from our investors underscores the fact that we have the right model for a next generation diversified media company and we’re incredibly well-positioned to lean in — even while others are stepping back.”