BuzzFeed Is Going Public. Now What for Vox Media, Group Nine and Vice?
“For us, it’s about ambition and opportunity, and we’re ambitious,” said Jim Bankoff, Managing Director of Vox Media. “We’re going to weigh our options, but we’re going to do it from a strong position. He wouldn’t comment on financial details or potential transactions.
Group Nine has had discussions with major publishers, including Vox Media, about a possible merger for its own SPAC list, but so far none have taken place, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. Group Nine boss Ben Lerer said in an interview that the company was “in an enviable position” given recent sales growth.
“PSPC obviously allows us to be even more ambitious,” he said.
One option for Group Nine would be a deal with one of its biggest backers: Discovery Inc. The media giant recently orchestrated a bold takeover of WarnerMedia in an attempt to better compete in streaming. Group Nine properties have helped attract hundreds of thousands of new customers to Discovery’s streaming platform through content partnerships, making it an attractive takeover target.
The digital advertising market flourished during the pandemic as people began to spend more online; BuzzFeed, Vox Media and Group Nine have all benefited from this. However, their earnings were nothing compared to the sums brought in by the digital giants.
“The crumbs of Facebook, Google and Amazon are the cake of Vox, Group Nine and Buzzfeed,” said Brian Wieser, chief analyst at GroupM, the media investment arm of advertising firm WPP.
This disparity underscores the need for ad-focused publishers to continue to grow.
BuzzFeed’s entry into public markets is likely to give it an advantage. In addition to cash, he will be able to use his shares as currency to complete another transaction in the direction of his purchase at HuffPost.
“We will have opportunities to pursue more acquisitions, and there are more exciting companies that we want to pursue,” said Jonah Peretti, co-founder and CEO of BuzzFeed last month.
When asked if BuzzFeed would consider getting into the subscription business, he said in a recent interview, “Of course we would. Why not?”
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