Vox Media is raising $40 million from Silicon Valley venture firm Accel Partners, a huge sum of money for a new media company. The news was announced today, after reporters noticed a filing with the securities and exchanges commission (SEC).
Vox Media’s trio of brands are SBNation, one of the largest sports-blogging communities on the Web; tech/gadgets site The Verge, and gaming site Polygon. The Washington D.C.-based company has already raised $35 million, so when this funding goes through, it will be one of the most well-funded independent content creators on the Internet.
A number of tech-focused media companies have taken funding in the past few years: GigaOm raised about $14 million, Say Media (parent of ReadWrite) raised $27 million, and TechMediaNetwork has raised over $40 million (and then acquired popular tech site Tom’s Hardware in July).
Full disclosure: VentureBeat competes with many of these sites, and we’ve taken venture funding as well, although on a much smaller scale. We’ve raised under $1 million to date. For perspective, we talked with our own founder and editor-in-chief, Matt Marshall.
Marshall said the industry will keep a close eye on Vox as it explores new business models in the wake of its windfall.
“I would imagine that Accel has figured something out beyond advertising,” said Marshall, who performed extensive analysis and research last year around the optimal levels of investment for digital content creators.
“They [Vox Media] would have to defy all historical norms for this industry to make it a win for the investors.”
According to a report in All Things D, Vox is “on track” to be profitable this year. The company has revealed plans to expand its video business for various sites, and connected TV applications. In May, the Verge added a new video channel, and brought on Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian as a regular host. Vox added an in-house agency earlier this year to sell sponsorship for this series.
Vox is also planning to use the funding to broaden its editorial coverage across various sites. It will now produce more reported videos, and cover business topics beyond its usual social media news and gadget reviews. Advertising Age reports that The Verge does not intend to become the next CNN — it will remain focused on its core beats, tech and culture.
Vox isn’t the only digital media company to raise significant funding — and large exits are not out of the question. Huffington Post raised $37 million before it was acquired by AOL for $315 million in 2011, and sports blogging/news site Bleacher Report raised $40 million before it was acquired by Turner Broadcasting for a reported $200 million in 2012.
Meanwhile, viral content machine BuzzFeed has pulled in nearly $50 million to date.
Industry experts are already speculating whether Vox Media will go public — as it would be very expensive (probably too expensive) to acquire. Vox Media chief executive Jim Bankoff told Ad Age that the company is more focused at present on building out its product, and “executing on our plans.”
Accel Partners led the funding round and was joined by previous investors Comcast Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Accel Partners’ Andrew Braccia led the first round of funding in Vox Media back in 2008.
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