The latest purchase by RockYou follows its acquisitions this year of feel-good-focused LittleThings and CafeMedia’s CafeMom, MamasLatinas, Revelist and BabyNameWizard. With the addition of Mom.me, the company will likely rank fifth in comScore’s Family and Parenting category within the next 60 days, according RockYou Media CEO Lisa Marino (pictured above).
“In a short time, Mom.me has grown their audience and created a trusted, stylish, and culturally relevant destination for millennial moms and moms-to-be,” Marino said.
With the acquisition, Mom.me managing editor Laura Clark will move into a new role overseeing RockYou’s parenting websites, including Mom.me CafeMom and BabyNameWizard. “There’s a lot of value in covering the life cycle of parenting,” Marino said. Anne-Marie O’Neill, Mom.me’s founder and GM, is remaining with Whalerock.
RockYou’s deal with Whalerock closed on Monday, Sept. 17. RockYou also acquired Purple Clover, a lifestyle site focused on 50-plus adults, under the deal. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Mom.me and Purple Clover have averaged about 4 million-5 million monthly unique visitors, with 80% of that coming from Mom.me, according to Marino.
L.A.-based Whalerock Industries, headed by CEO Lloyd Braun, is a production and media company that has developed apps and digital properties with celebs including the Kardashian and Jenner sisters; Ellen DeGeneres; and rapper Tyler, the Creator.
RockYou is looking to make further acquisitions in the near future and is in talks with several Hispanic-focused media brands to build on the MamasLatinas website it now owns, Marino said.
Founded in 2005, RockYou’s roots are in the games business. It operates a portfolio of mobile and Facebook game titles, run out of its studio in India, including “War of Nations,” “Bakery Blitz,” “Zoo World,” and “Gardens of Time.”
The games still generate a lot of revenue but RockYou is now focused on building out the digital-media side of the business. RockYou’s game titles came through acquisitions, and “we believed we could apply that business methodology to traditional digital media,” said Marino.
While RockYou isn’t targeting distressed assets per se, Marino said there are numerous websites that simply can’t reach enough scale to turn a profit. “Let’s be honest: digital media is challenged at the moment,” she said. “You have a lot of these companies that have been super-engaged audiences but the cost of content is too high and they don’t have scale. What ends up happening is they kind of get stuck.”
The company has a playbook for how to turn media websites cash-flow profitable within 90 days, according to Marino. That involves moving the new property onto RockYou’s ad system to improve monetization and reducing content costs by getting the right balance between freelancers and full-time employees as well as moving video editing and other post-production to the company’s Thailand office.
“LittleThings had been closed for six weeks when we bought it,” Marino said. In April, LittleThings’ revenue was roughly $50,000; in September, it’s on track to generate almost $1 million, she said.
RockYou’s deal with CafeMedia for the four websites closed in June. New York-based CafeMedia is focused now on developing AdThrive, its ad-monetization platform for small and midsize digital publishers.
Across all platforms, Mom.me has more than 7 million followers. The site features a daily mix of parenting news and conversation (recent stories include “Why We Only Have Sex When Our Kids Aren’t Home,” “Mom Starts Twitter War After Blaming Men for Unwanted Pregnancies,” and “Kristen Bell Admits to Smoking Weed in Front of Her Sober Husband”). The site also produces a mix of short-form viral content, longer-form series and branded content. Mom.me runs an influencer network of more than 200 creators who produce daily posts and videos.
“One of the reasons we really liked Mom.me was they reach a younger mom, whereas CafeMom is for the older mom,” Marino said.
With Mom.me and Purple Clover, Whalerock had a syndication deal with Microsoft’s MSN. Marino hopes to expand that deal to syndicate RockYou’s other content to MSN.
She added that the deal with CafeMedia “brought us a great direct-sales team, and we can leverage that for Mom.me and LittleThings.” In addition, RockYou now owns the mom.com domain name (previously owned by CafeMedia, it redirects to a CafeMom page), which Marino sees potentially becoming a valuable destination in its own right.
RockYou’s investors include Columbia Capital, DCM Ventures, Rembrandt Venture Partners, SoftBank Capital, SK Telecom Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company has about 300 employees worldwide, including 150 in Bangalore, India, 90 in the U.S. and about 50 in Bangkok, Thailand.