Smosh Owner Defy Media Raises $70M

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Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla of Smosh

President Keith Richman says the company will look to create more ambitious programs like its recent 'Smosh Live' sketch comedy show.

Defy Media, the digital media company behind brands like Smosh, Clevver and ScreenJunkies, has raised $70 million in funding led by Wellington Management Co. 

It's the first investment money Defy has raised since it was formed in 2013 by the merger of Break Media and Alloy Digital. Break had previously raised $21 million from a group of investors that included Lionsgate, and Alloy had taken $30 million a few months before the merger. It also comes several months after Defy was said to be exploring a sale. "There are always people that have expressed interest," Defy president Keith Richman said, "but we went out to capital raise, and that's what we ended up with."

Richman explained that Defy Media's round was about positioning the digital media company for further upheavals in the entertainment industry, providing capital to increase the volume of its programming and also allow it to work on more ambitious, TV-quality projects like the recent Smosh Live sketch comedy show. "We look at our networks and we look at our ability to program our content, and we think that we're in a really good position to capitalize as all these different changes emerge," he said. "The money was to enable us to do it faster and to put us in an even better position to program, distribute, market and generally operate in this new world." 

He also pointed to the fact that Defy's audience of 125 million viewers skews young, but as older viewers control their purse strings, he would like to broaden the general awareness about Defy's channels and talent. 

Boston-based Wellington has previously invested in augmented reality startup Magic Leap, Jessica Alba's e-commerce firm Honest Co. and razor company Harry's. Said Richman: "We liked the fact that these were guys who had experience on both sides and could also serve to help us think through what the future could hold for media."