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Thrillist Raises $54 Million, Splits Off E-Commerce Unit

Thrillist Media Group, a digital media and e-commerce company targeting men, has raised $54 million in funding and will split apart its content and commerce divisions.

Axel Springer, the Germany-based digital publishing conglomerate, is taking a minority stake in TMG’s media unit, which will continue to be known as Thrillist Media Group. Separately, Oak Investment Partners and SBNY (formerly known as Softbank Capital NY) are leading the investment into JackThreads, the men’s fashion e-commerce site TMG acquired in 2010.

The deal continues the trend of big media companies seeking growth — and hard-to-reach younger auds — through acquisitions or investments in digital players. Hearst invested $21 million in Complex, another New York digital-media company targeting millennial males with pop-culture content, while NBCUniversal recently pumped $200 million apiece into BuzzFeed and Vox Media.

Ben Lerer will serve as CEO of Thrillist Media Group and Ken Lerer, managing partner of Lerer Hippeau Ventures, will join TMG’s board of directors. Eric Ashman and Adam Rich will continue as president and editor-in-chief, respectively. Mark Walker will become CEO of JackThreads.

New York-based Thrillist Media Group, founded in 2005, reaches 15 million monthly unique visitors to Thrillist.com, and over 80 million per month across digital, social and mobile platforms. The company has more than 175 employees, with local editions in 35 cities in the U.S. and Europe. Thrillist also produces over 75 live events yearly.

TMG said Axel Springer’s investment will help it expand into new, targeted content verticals, broaden its video and social resources and grow other areas of its business.

For Axel Springer, the stake in Thrillist is part of its push into the U.S. market. The company on Tuesday announced a deal to acquire news and events company Business Insider for about $343 million.

“This investment in Thrillist Media Group is an important part of our strategy to support innovative digital media and compelling content around the world as well as our company’s expansion to the U.S. and other English-language markets,” Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in announcing the investment.

Citigroup served as financial adviser to Thrillist Media Group on the funding.

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