Bustle Digital Group (BDG) has acquired the New York-based tech/culture siteThe Outlinefor an undisclosed sum,reports Recode. The Outline was founded in 2016 by Josh Topolsky, CEO, who will continue to run the site, along with the remainder of his staff. According to Recode, BDG CEO Bryan Goldberg wants to use The Outlines custom publishing platform across his other digital sites, hoping to attract advertisers who want to see something a bit different. Goldbergs stable of publications is, indeed, different.
We cant wait to bring our team, technology, and storytelling to the BDG family, said Topolsky in a statement. Bryan and the company have built an impressive modern media business, and were excited to be part of the next chapter.
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BDGs claim to fame is that it is the largest publisher reaching millennial women, reaching more than 80 million readers monthly with 75 percent of them being female and 75 percent between the ages of 18 and 34. BDGs millennial-focused publications include Bustle, Romper, Elite Daily and The Zoe Report. The company has also acquired Gawker and Mic, though their current status seems to be in a state of flux. BDG acquired Mic in November 2018 for about $5 million in a fire sale, just hours after Mic laid off most of its editorial staff.
Why the acquisition? Recode says The Outline didnt generate sufficient revenue to sustain itself. Last year, in fact, Topolsky laid off staff writers and went the freelance route instead to produce original content. He is also planning to launch Input, a tech-focused publication, reports Business Insider. On the InputMag.com website, Topolsky says how excited he isthat The Outline will get a sibling, and he is eager to put his tech knowledge to work in this new project.
…I think its time for something new, said Topolsky. So were making a new thing. Something that asks different questions finds different answers and is honest with its audience. Its called Input – a publication that puts technology at its core, both in how we tell our stories, and in which stories we choose to tell.
What are the real benefits here? BDG gets another arrow for its quiver, potential revenue and a broader reach. Topolsky and The Outline get a cash infusion and to continue to do the work they believe in – at least as far as we can tell.
If you had a hard time tracking whats happening with BDG, The Outline, Mic, Gawker and Input, you are not alone. It seems like there are a lot of moving pieces, side deals and at least a handful of hasty decisions here. In one breath Topolsky talks about a sister publication for The Outline, but then he lays everyone off, sells The Outline and goes to work for a past rival.
Topolsky seems to have an entrepreneurial, journalistic spirit at heart, yet he may not have the business chops to see something through. Lets hope BDG does, because revolving owners of digital publications are hard to follow, no matter what audience you are targeting. It is hard to tell if they are in the publishing business to make a profit or because they are storytellers are heart.