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Bustle Digital Has Bought The Outline

Bustle Digital Group, the company behind websites like Bustle, Mic and Gawker, has acquired Joshua Topolsky’s The Outline, the company confirmed Wednesday afternoon. As part of the deal, Topolsky and his staff will join the Bustle Digital team. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition was first reported by Recode Wednesday afternoon after The Daily Beast broke the news about conversations between the two companies.

“The Outline has created industry leading technology and ad product,” said Bustle Digital founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg in a statement. “We love what they’ve done as an independent, story-driven publication, and look forward to working together to speak to new audiences BDG has not previously reached.”

“We can’t wait to bring our team, technology, and storytelling to the BDG family,” added Topolsky, The Outline’s founder and CEO. “Bryan and the company have built an impressive modern media business, and we’re excited to be part of the next chapter.”

Topolsky is best known for being one of the founding editors of The Verge. Following a brief stint at Bloomberg, he went on to found The Outline in 2016.

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The site has been positioned as a niche digital magazine not playing to search engines and easy clicks, complete with the tag line “It’s not for everyone, it’s for you.”

However, the plan to sell this more exclusive approach to brand with heavy pockets may not have worked as intended, with Recode reporting that The Outline generated less than $1 million in revenue in 2018. As a consequence, The Outline laid off all of its staff writers last year, resulting in boycott campaign from freelance writers.

The Outline is just the latest struggling digital media company picked up by Bustle Digital. The company bought Mic in late 2018 after the publication had laid off most of its staff, and acquired the remnants of Gawker.com in a bankruptcy auction last summer.

The Outline had raised around $10 million, most recently adding $5 million to its coffers in May of 2018. Funders of the site included RRE Ventures, Boat Rocker Ventures, NextView Ventures and Advancit Capital.

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