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TheSkimm Closes $12 Million Round With Shonda Rhimes, Tyra Banks Among Group of Women Investors

Willow Bay, Jesse Draper, Linnea Roberts, Hope Taitz are also among female-focused media firm's new backers

TheSkimm, a digital-media company built on a daily newsletter aimed at millennial women, has closed out a $12 million Series C funding round with a group of mostly female investors, including Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks.

Other backers who participated in the round include Willow Bay, a former TV journalist who’s now dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Jesse Draper, founding partner of Halogen Ventures; Linnea Roberts, founder and CEO of GingerBread Capital; and Hope Taitz, CEO of ELY Capital.

Also joining the round as new investors are Goldman Sachs and Michael Karsch, chairman of juice-bar chain Juice Press. Other prior Series C investors are GV (formerly Google Ventures), Spanx founder Sara Blakely and former lead investors 21st Century Fox, RRE Ventures and Homebrew Ventures.

“We wanted to use this moment in time to curate a really impressive group of female investors, to make sure we had a larger female presence on TheSkimm’s investor syndicate,” said Danielle Weisberg, who is co-founder and co-CEO alongside Carly Zakin.

Of the new investors, Rhimes — showrunner behind hit TV shows including “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” — and Banks, who’s a TV personality, entrepreneur and supermodel, were both early readers of TheSkimm newsletter, according to Zakin. “We stayed in touch with them and are honored to have them as investors.”

The funding brings New York-based TheSkimm to a total of $29 million raised to date. Zakin and Weisberg declined to provide other financial info for the privately held startup.

With the latest round of funding, the company plans to expand its free and premium product offerings. TheSkimm’s revenue mix includes direct subscription, native advertising, affiliate, content licensing and distribution. The company currently has 72 full-time employees and expects to make additional hires across multiple areas of the business, including product and data analytics.

“For us, this is about expanding our footprint, and building on TheSkimm’s proposition to our community,” said Zakin.

TheSkimm also plans to use the new funding to expand the No Excuses political-engagement campaign, which it launched leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Zakin. The effort helped register more than 110,000 American voters, according to the company.

Banks, in a statement, said, “From the onset, TheSkimm’s smart, speedy, and most importantly fierce approach to current events and world news got my attention.” She added that the company has “created a media platform that works seamlessly with on-the-go lifestyles. As a fervent supporter of trailblazing female-led businesses, I am thrilled to be a part of the next phase of TheSkimm’s development.”

Willow Bay, for her part, commented, “I have tremendous admiration for what Carly and Danielle have built — a thriving, innovative company amidst this challenging and turbulent media landscape. Their unique relationship with their loyal audience makes TheSkimm a genuinely disruptive, one-of-a kind venture, and I’m extremely excited to back these entrepreneurial female journalists.”

Founded in 2012, the company initially launched with the Daily Skimm, the email newsletter that remains its flagship property and today has about 7 million subscribers. TheSkimm has since expanded to include TheSkimm app (which carries a subscription price of $2.99 per month) and other products. Skimm Studios, its production arm, develops and produces content including podcast “Skimm’d From the Couch” and video series including two for Facebook Watch — “Skimm’d With…” and “Get Off the Couch” — and political interview series “Sip ‘n Skimm” on YouTube and TheSkimm app.

TheSkimm’s board of directors comprises Zakin and Weisberg; Jim Robinson, RRE Ventures founder and general partner; Satya Patel, partner at Homebrew Ventures; Betsy Morgan, LionTree Executive in Residence; Joe Marchese, president of ad revenue for Fox Networks Group; and M.G. Siegler, GV general partner.

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