Thrillist Owner Group Nine Raises $40 Million to Fuel Video Push

Ben Lerer Thrillist Group Nine Newfront - Publicity - H 2017
© That's Cool Photography/Jacob Holguin, founder of That's Cool Photography (@thatscoolphotography)

Discovery Communications, Axel Springer and Lerer Hippeau participated in the funding round, which comes a little more than a year after the company's creation.

Group Nine media is doubling down on its video push with a $40 million cash infusion from Discovery Communications and other investors. 

The funding comes a little more than a year after Discovery invested $100 million to help establish Group Nine, which gathered Thrillist, The Dodo, NowThis and Discovery's Seeker under one umbrella. 

Axel Springer, which had previously invested in Thrillist, and Lerer Hippeau, which had backed Thrillist and The Dodo and incubated NowThis, also participated in the new round.

Since Group Nine's formation, the company has placed an emphasis on video production for social and digital distribution. It laid off around 20 people at Thrillist earlier this year as part of its reorganization to focus on video. The lifestyle brand also hired GoPro veteran Ocean MacAdams as president.

Across its brands, Group Nine receives over 5 billion monthly video views and reaches 40 million unique users each day. 

"We founded Group Nine with the strongly held belief that the media industry was at the beginning of a massive and definitive shift to digital video, and that the next generation of great brands would be built on top of the leading social platforms," said CEO Ben Lerer. "In addition, we believed that scale would rule and be imperative for success, and that quality content and original IP would be key to building out a truly successful digital footprint. We are very pleased to see all this come together this past year. This vote of confidence from our partners in both our vision and trajectory will allow us to lean in and grow faster and smarter."

Added Discovery CEO David Zaslav, "The company is completely on track, led by a terrific management team, with superfan brands, strong tech and data and a strategic growth plan. We are proud to make this additional investment to help Group Nine continue its momentum." 

Group Nine said the funding would also help it make acquisitions. In early November it announced that it had purchased digital comedy studio Jash for an undisclosed price. 

The funding comes amid a rocky time for digital media companies. Mashable is said to be planning a sale to Ziff Davis for well below its $250 million valuation. Meanwhile, reports suggest that BuzzFeed and Vice will miss their revenue targets this year.