Group Nine Media to Acquire PopSugar

© That's Cool Photography/Jacob Holguin, founder of That's Cool Photography (@thatscoolphotography)
Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer

Co-founders Brian Sugar and Lisa Sugar will join the Group Nine executive team.

Group Nine Media plans to acquire PopSugar amid a period of consolidation in the media industry. 

The deal means the merger of female-focused PopSugar with the company that owns the Thrillist (food and travel), The Dodo (animals), Seeker (science) and NowThis (news and politics) brands. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal, which on Monday first reported on the deal, cited anonymous sources valuing it at $300 million. 

"When we started Group Nine almost three years ago by combining Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker, we foresaw the impending consolidation of the industry and set out to create a model for the next-generation media company with significant scale, deeply loyal and engaged audiences, multiplatform expertise, and highly diversified revenue," said Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer. "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."

Per Group Nine, the combined company will reach 70 percent of people aged 18 to 34 and will have more than 200 million followers across social platforms. 

Group Nine was was created in 2016 with the roll-up of Thrillist, The Dodo, NowThis and Discovery-owned Seeker and a $100 million investment form Discovery. The company, which also counts Axel Springer and Lerer Hippeau as investors, has raised nearly $200 million in total. It previously acquired the comedy studio Jash in 2017. 

PopSugar, meanwhile, launched in 2006 and built up a lifestyle brand for women. It has raised $41 million from Sequoia Capital and IVP. As part of the deal, co-founders Brian Sugar and Lisa Sugar will join the Group Nine executive team. Brian Sugar and investor Michael Moritz will also join the Group Nine board of directors. 

"We've built PopSugar to be a welcoming voice that resonates with all women across all of her passion points," said Lisa Sugar, who serves as the company's president. "The Group Nine brands share a similar passionate connection with their audiences as well as an ethos of optimism and action that truly excites me as we become part of the Group Nine portfolio." 

Added PopSugar CEO Brian Sugar, "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. 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."  

The Group Nine deal for PopSugar comes one week after Vice agreed to acquire another female-centric digital publisher, Refinery29. in late September, Vox Media struck a deal to purchase and merge with the company that owns New York Magazine.