Sugar Inc, a women-focused media company, is in the middle of a big expansion. It has closed a new, $16 million round from existing investor Sequoia Capital and used some of that money to buy back shares from another investor, NBC Universal. It also used some of that money to purchase of women-focused “indie” video-driven shopping site Shopflick. The founder and chief executive of that company, David Grant, is becoming the president of a new, Los Angeles-based unit of Sugar Inc. Grant, also a former FOX Network executive, will be working with Hollywood media companies to expand Sugar Inc into movies, television, videogames and other formats.
This is all part of a plan that chief executive Brian Sugar tells me has already made his San Francisco company profitable — half its revenue comes from display ads, and the other half comes from e-commerce.
Shopflick will be integrated into another Sugar Inc property: Shopstyle, a sort of clearinghouse for name-brand women’s clothing and accessories. Sugar Inc bought Shopstyle last year, after it realized that its core property, a women-focused blog network, was sending a lot of lucrative traffic to women’s retail sites, Sugar explains. It since integrated Shopstyle by, for example, linking to items offered in that site when they’re mentioned in Sugar Inc blog posts. Now, it is making money either through getting paid when it sends links to a retailer, or when the user following the link actually makes a purchase. Shopflick will be integrated with Shopstyle and other Sugar Inc properties to flesh out the video component. While Sugar is still testing different ideas for this new interface, Sugar says that it could include overlays, or links to items featured in videos, photos and prices to further encourage clicks and purchases.
The full departure from NBC is indicative of how well Sugar Inc is doing today. It previously quit an advertising deal with NBC last year when it brought its advertising sales team in-house. The company was making $15 million in revenue last year, according to TechCrunch, and today has 97 employees. It raised the new money in order to do acquisitions, and Sugar tells me his company is hunting around for more.