CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Technicolor vice chair Melinda “Mindy” Mount have joined the board of directors of Group Nine Acquisition Corp., the blank-check company looking to roll up other digital businesses with Group Nine Media.
Discovery-backed Group Nine, whose digital-media brands include Thrillist, NowThis, the Dodo and Seeker, formed the special-purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) in late 2020.
Group Nine Acquisition Corp. went public in January, ultimately raising $230 million in gross proceeds for an acquisition, merger or other business combination with companies in digital media, social media, e-commerce, events, and/or digital publishing and marketing. GNAC is headed by chairman/CEO Ben Lerer, who concurrently serves as CEO of Group Nine Media.
Zucker and Mount join Group Nine Acquisition Corp.’s two other independent board members: Richard D. Parsons, co-founder and partner of Imagination Capital and a director of Lazard Group, as well as the former CEO of Time Warner and former chairman of Citigroup; and Jen Wong, COO of Reddit and former president of digital at Time Inc.
Zucker last month said he expects to depart CNN, where he’s served as president since 2013, at the end of this year.
“I have been a big fan of Group Nine Media’s work for years and recognize the unique opportunity that exists in consolidating the digital sector,” Zucker said in a statement. “I know that Ben and his team understand implicitly both where the digital industry is headed and what it takes to build a category-defining company.”
Mount most recently was president of Jawbone, a consumer technology and wearable products company, and previously served in various executive roles at Microsoft. “I couldn’t agree more with Group Nine’s thesis around the importance of consolidating the fragmented digital industry,” she said in a statement. “I believe this is the right vehicle to make that vision a reality and I am delighted to join the GNAC board.”
Ben Lerer commented, “Jeff’s career in media and ability to see around corners are legendary, and Mindy’s financial and operational acumen are world-class. We’re thrilled to add their unique perspective to our team.”
Other GNAC directors are Brian Sugar, president of Group Nine Media and former CEO of PopSugar, and Group Nine Media CFO Sean Macnew.
New York-based Group Nine Media was formed in 2016 with a $100 million investment from Discovery, combining three startups backed by venture-capital firm Lerer Hippeau — Thrillist, NowThis Media and the Dodo — with Seeker (formerly Discovery Digital Networks). The company acquired comedy studio JASH in 2017 and last year bought women’s lifestyle brand PopSugar.
SPACs have become a trendy way for private companies to raise financing and go public — without having to embark on a more time-consuming traditional IPO route. Companies that have gone public via SPACs recently include DraftKings and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space-tourism venture.