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Mode Media Shuts Down: Women-Focused Digital Player Once Valued at $1 Billion

Company turns over operations of Ning social-networking division to New York-based Cyndx

Mode Media has ceased operations and laid off most of its employees, after the female-focused fashion, beauty and lifestyle media company failed in its efforts to sell itself or to secure new financing.

The company’s shutdown, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was effective Thursday, Sept. 15. Mode Media confirmed that it is closing its doors but declined to provide further comment or information.

Brisbane, Calif.-based Mode Media, founded in 2004, was previously called Glam Media before the company rebranded itself in 2014. It had raised about $225 million over nine rounds of funding, according to CrunchBase, and had a valuation of about $1 billion in 2013 as the company prepped for an initial public offering that never materialized.

Mode Media had been one of the 10 biggest U.S. internet media companies by audience, rivaling or exceeding the reach of competitors like AOL, SheKnows, Hearst and Conde Nast among millennial women. The company had 144 million unique U.S. monthly users and 400 million users worldwide as recently as of December 2015, according to comScore. At one point, Mode had several international offices, including in Toronto, London, Munich, Paris, Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai and South Korea.

With Mode’s shutdown, it has entered into an agreement with New York-based Cyndx LLC to take over the operations of its Ning social-networking division. Mode Media (then Glam) in 2011 acquired Ning, founded by Gina Bianchini and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz. Earlier this year, Andreessen resigned from Mode’s board.

“The Ning and Cyndx teams together are bigger, stronger, and better positioned to provide innovative media solutions that will improve our customers social experience,” the Ning team said in a blog post late Thursday.

Mode Media described its site as a “social networking platform” with video and articles from more than 10,000 creators — who now will likely never be paid for their recent work for the site. Its marketing tagline was “curating the best of the web.”

Mode Media’s investors included Hubert Burda Media, GLG Partners, Accel Partners, DAG Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Walden Venture Capital and Information Capital.

Mode Media laid off about 30 employees this summer. That came after founder and CEO Samir Arora resigned in April and was replaced by interim CEO Jack Rotolo. Mode president Dan Lagani left in July to join social-publishing startup Diply as president and chief revenue officer.

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