Bustle Digital Group - Media Company
Founded in 2013, Bustle Digital Group is a leading global media company which is home to 13 popular media brands.
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Founded in 2013, New York-headquartered Bustle Digital Group is a leading global media company. It has a portfolio of 13 distinct digital and experiential brands that are shaping culture. It is the largest premium publisher that is not just aimed at young women but also a platform for young women. It mainly provides content in news and entertainment, lifestyle, fashion, and beauty categories.
To date, the company has raised $80M in venture capital funding from the likes of Axel Springer, Saban Capital Group, and General Catalyst, and has been valued at just over $200M. Its last $30M funding round in 2018 was led by venture-capital firm Avenir Growth Capital with participation from Simon Ventures, German publishing giant Axel Springer and the company’s previous investors.
The company has grown tremendously with its 9 acquisitions, Bustle, Elite Daily, Input, Inverse, Mic, Nylon, Romper, W and The Zoe Report, and Some Sports Studio. It is seeking an IPO of at least $600M which will enable them to buy ed-tech companies to support its business as well as bring several more brands on board.
Business Overview & Products
Bustle Digital Group currently has 13 brands that provide diverse content to a wide range of consumers.
Bustle: premier digital destination for young women featuring news and politics alongside articles about beauty, celebrities and fashion trends.
Elite Daily: news platform for and by millennials, the leading source for news and entertainment for the connected generation.
Fatherly: leading digital lifestyle brand that provides news, expert advice, product recommendations, and other resources for fathers.
Gawker: news and gossip website which features categories like media, technology, celebrities, news, and politics.
Input: new kind of technology and culture publication that delivers staples such as device reviews and quick-hit news about tech and software companies.
Inverse: tech- and science-focused website for a millennial audience.
Mic: editorial site with increased coverage of the intersection of politics, culture, social justice, and social media.
Nylon: beauty, fashion, and entertainment site that is the go-to source for the young, style, and culture obsessed.
Romper: media brand for millennial women featuring personal stories, life hacks, expert advice, celebrity news and interviews, recipes, etc.
Scary Mommy: media and entertainment brand for moms in the country, providing content on parenting, motherhood, current events, and pop culture.
The Dad: media and entertainment brand for dads featuring memes, videos, jokes, news, and stories.
The Zoe Report: fashion and lifestyle destination to help women build, experiment, and cultivate their lookyearsLinkedInBeforehe’s, covering everything from runway fashion and beauty trends to lifestyle ideas, styling tips, and trends guides.
W: premier fashion and culture publication for sophisticated readers with its inventive photography, bold design, and conversation-starting features.
The US-based company expanded to the United Kingdom in 2018 and after experiencing a successful transition in 2 years’ time is now planning to further globalize its efforts in other countries.
How It Works
Bustle Digital Group is a media conglomerate with 13 media brands under its umbrella. With a cumulative readership of over 100 million, the brands generate revenue through different models including affiliate marketing and advertisements. Insights are generated by the Bustle Digital Group’s Insights team who helps the associated brands tell stories that matter to their audience.
Business Model & Pricing
Bustle Digital Media’s business model is focused on revenue from advertising, leveraging its large stable of brands. Branded content makes up 70% of the revenue generated across its multiple brands. The company also earns money from affiliate commerce, by publishing articles with multiple brand links and taking a cut of the sales it sends to those retail giants.
In 2021, According to the Wall Street Journal, Bustle Digital Group was on pace to generate more than $150M in revenue by the year’s end. In the first half of 2021, it saw a 50% revenue growth rate compared to the same period last year. The company has also seen a constant increase in customer retention rate for the last 3 years, rising from 63% to 67% to 72%.
The company with its 84 million monthly readers and 122 million social fans is aiming for an IPO of at least $600M including debt. For this purpose, it hired investment bank Farvahar Partners to identify an attractive deal with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Founder(s) & Team
Bryan Goldberg (LinkedIn): Founder and CEO at Bustle Digital Group. Prior to founding BDG, Bryan worked as a Consultant at Deloitte Consulting and as a Summer Analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston. He also founded Bleacher Report, one of the world's premier sports media companies.
History & Evolution
In 2007, Bryan founded Bleacher Report, a sports news website with three of his middle school friends, David Finocchio, Alexander Freund, and David Nemetz. In 2012, the site was acquired for $200M by Turner Broadcasting System.
In 2013, Bryan left Bleacher Report to found Bustle, a women’s interest website. He believed that women in their 20s had nothing to read on the internet and that is what he wanted to change with Bustle. Prior to the launch, he interviewed hundreds of women about what they believed was missing from traditional publications like Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Bustle was launched with $6.5M funding from Seed and Series A rounds. The launch enraged women in the media industry because the founder claimed to change the face of feminism with his website, but his tone-deaf statement made it clear he was only in it for the money. Despite all the backlash, the website received good reviews from its actual target market, young women.
In 2014, the website had grown tremendously and had 20 million monthly readers. Its monthly unique visitors surpassed 10 million, placing it ahead of rival websites such as Refinery29, Rookie and xoJane. That same year it also raised $15.5M in a round of financing led by General Catalyst Partners.
In 2015, Bryan launched Romper, which would produce content for millennial mothers. It had also grown to have an editorial staff of 46 people and was on target to bring in $10M revenue to turn profitable.
In 2016, the website had grown to 50 million monthly readers and had over 70 full-time editors and 250 contract contributors. That year the website raised a funding of $11.5M in a Series D funding round which was then used to launch a redesign. In 2017, Bryan acquired Elite Daily, a millennial-focused site from the Daily Mail and it was then rebranded as Bustle Digital Group.
In 2018, Bustle Digital Group acquired Gawker, the media gossip blog in a bankruptcy auction. That same year it acquired The Zoe Report, an online style platform as well as Flavor pill, an online publisher and experiential brand focused on events. It also purchased Mic, a millennial-focused digital news site. It announced its plans to expand internationally to the UK, with its first office outside the US opening in London.
In 2019, Bustle Digital Group acquired Nylon Magazine, an alternative fashion, and music publication, followed by The Outline, a tech and culture site, and Inverse, a science and technology publication.
In 2020, the company acquired W Magazine, an American fashion magazine that features stories about style under the joint venture. However, due to the pandemic, Goldberg had to lay off employees and shut down The Outline, a news site for millennials.
The business recovered quickly from the initial pandemic-driven advertising slow down. In 2021 the company had 13 brands that cater to all kinds of consumers, 84 million monthly readers, 500 employees, multiple revenue streams, a valuation of over $200M, and $80M raised in venture capital funding. It is also aiming for an IPO of $600M and acquired Some Spider Studios, the media company home to parenting brands Fatherly, Scary Mommy, and The Dad.
Bustle Digital Group’s competitive advantage is the shoppable options it has set within its editorial content. To execute this, editors specifically select articles on Bustle.com that include a special mention of products or are complementary to them. Later, shopping carousels of featured products are inserted in those articles. When a reader clicks on the product, all the information related to it is listed on the sidebar, like price, size, color, etc and they can then proceed to add it to the cart.
According to the Media Global Market Opportunities and Strategies to 2030: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery report, the global media market was valued at $1,713B in 2020 at a CAGR of 3.8% since 2015. Moreover, the market is estimated to reach $2,670.7B in 2025 at a rate of 9.3%.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the global entertainment and media industry experienced a significant -3.8% drop in its year-on-year revenue in 2020, which was the most significant decrease in revenue to date.
Next Suggested Reads
The Q + A With Bustle Digital Group (Steven Wolfe Pereira, Forbes, Feb ‘19)
Bustle Digital Group Unionizes With Writers Guild of America East (Dave McNary, Variety, Nov ‘20)
We shouldn’t have to go on so many first dates’: How Bustle Group is wooing advertisers (Kayleigh Barber, Digiday, Feb ‘21)
‘Do not go into media if you do not have very thick skin’: Founder of Bustle and Bleacher Report explains how he built 2 companies worth hundreds of millions by age 33 (Alyson Shontell, Business Insider, Feb ‘17)
When Experience Counts: How Bustle Digital Group Is Future-Proofing Its Business (Caysey Welton, Folio Mag, July 20)
Bustle Digital hires bank to explore deal to go public -source (Joshua Franklin, Reuters, Jan ‘21)