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Group Nine Raises $50 Million From Discovery, Axel Springer

Digital-media company Group Nine Media raised $50 million in new funding, led by its lead investor Discovery along with participation from German publishing firm Axel Springer.

Group Nine was formed in 2016 with a $100 million investment from Discovery, combining three startups backed by Lerer Hippeau Ventures — Thrillist, NowThis Media and the Dodo — with Seeker (formerly Discovery Digital Networks). In 2017, it raised a $40 million follow-on round from Discovery, Axel Springer and Lerer Hippeau.

The funding gives Group Nine, which remains unprofitable, a valuation of over $600 million (up from $585 million when it was formed three years ago), the Wall Street Journal reported. A Group Nine rep declined to comment on the New York-based company’s current valuation. “While we never comment on valuation, the size and nature of the fundraise pretty clearly speaks to a round raised in strength,” the spokesman said.

The company said it will use the new $50 million cash infusion to invest in new content and intellectual property across its brands, as well as for its recently launched commerce division. Group Nine also is looking at “potential strategic acquisitions,” the company said in a statement.

“This strong vote of confidence from our investors underscores the fact that we have the right model for a next generation diversified media company,” Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer said in announcing the funding.

David Zaslav, Discovery’s president and CEO, said Group Nine is “a great fit with our strategy to aggregate and delight global passion audiences everywhere they consume video. We are proud to deepen our relationship with Group Nine through our additional investment.” Group Nine’s collaboration with Discovery includes co-selling advertising across linear TV, mobile and digital channels, and in-person events and producing social content for Discovery.

Group Nine reaches some 70% of U.S. consumers in their 20s monthly, according to Nielsen data from July 2019. The company’s millennial-skewing audiences spend nearly 50 million hours per month with its brands, which include mobile news brand NowThis; Thrillist, covering food, drink, travel and entertainment; and science-focused Seeker. Group Nine says it has production deals with more than 20 TV channels and platforms including Discovery, Netflix and Comedy Central.

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