ClassPass, the seven-year-old fitness and wellness marketplace, announced last week that it has raised $285 million in Series E funding. The funding round was led by L Catterton and Apax Digital and included additional investment by current investor Temasek. ClassPass said in the announcement that it would use the new funding to expand its international presence and to focus on growing its corporate wellness sales program. According to TechCrunch, ClassPass has raised close to $550 million to date and is now valued at $1 billion, giving it the coveted status of unicorn.
Phishing scams, new focuses and fury dominate the subscription headlines this week: phishing hackers are targeting PayPal accounts, Politico has a new FDA-focused subscription that will cost as much as $75,000 a year, and angry HP customers take to Twitter to rant about HP demanding people sign up for monthly ink subscriptions. Also, Apple is looking at acquiring MGM, BBC will be making cuts as it shifts its focus to digital news, and Penguin Random House pulls certain titles from their unlimited-reading subscription service.
David Jackson and Gary Marx, investigative reporters for the Chicago Tribune, are desperately seeking a solution to a possible acquisition by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that currently owns 32% of Tribune Publishing. In addition to the Chicago Tribune, the publisher owns The (New York) Daily News, The Baltimore (Maryland) Sun, The Hartford (Connecticut) Courant, The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, The (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, the Daily Press (Virginia), The Virginian-Pilot (Virginia) and The Morning Call (Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania). The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Jackson and Marx on January 19.
Subscription Insider announced today its Call for Speakers for Subscription Show 2019. Subscription Show 2019, an industry conference focused on the business of subscriptions, will be hosted at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, MA, Nov. 4-6, 2019. Subscription Insider will be accepting speaker proposals through February 1, 2019.
Last week, it became official. The Disney-Fox deal is now a done deal with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) completing its acquisition of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox for a cool $71 billion. In a news release, Disney called this the "unprecedented collection of high-quality creative content, stellar talent and cutting-edge technologies" that will allow the company to expedite its direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming strategy and expand its presence to new audiences. It's DTC offerings include ESPN+, ownership in Hulu and Disney +, its yet-to-be-launched streaming video-on-demand service coming later this year.
Billionaire Warren Buffet is selling BH Media Group, which owns 31 daily and 47 weekly newspapers, to Lee Enterprises Inc. for $140 million in cash. This represents the first major newspaper condensation of 2020. Lee provides news, information and advertising in 50 markets in 21 states. The company boasts 300+ weekly publications, 1.1 million newspaper subscribers and 73 million monthly digital views. Berkshire Hathaway is providing approximately $576 million in long-term financing to Lee at a 9% annual interest rate. The proceeds from this loan will pay for the acquisition, refinance approximately $400 million of Lees debt, and provide cash to terminate Lees revolving line of credit.
Acquisitions appear to be in the air this month. Last week, Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL) announced it plans to acquire Hello Products LLC, a premium oral care brand that sells a variety of dental products for everyone from three-month-old infants and toddlers to teens and adults. Available in the United States, Hello sells toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, dental floss, teething gel and other products in retail stores, online and via subscription. Their products use natural ingredients and are not tested on animals.
MoviePass parent company Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc. admitted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week that they erroneously reported subscription revenue in their third quarter of 2018, for the period ended September 30, 2018. MoviePass reported $5.9 million in revenue from suspended subscriptions from subscribers who had not yet re-upped, as well as $700,000 in subscription revenue that Costco refunded to subscribers who had terminated their MoviePass movie subscriptions.
Video game developer and distributor Electronic Arts, better known as EA, is laying off 350 of its 9,000 employees, or 3.9 percent, globally, reports The Verge. The layoffs will primarily impact marketing and publishing. However, EA has closed its Japan office and will be "ramping down" its Russia office. Considering the company's third quarter results for the period ended December 31, 2018, this should not come as a surprise.
Condé Nast is starting out the year with staff cuts to the Glamour magazine team, part of the parent company's overall reorganization plan. According to WWD, Glamour cut staff last week, including an assistant editor and executive beauty editor. This news comes just two months after Glamour announced that the 80-year-old fashion and beauty magazine would cease publication at the beginning of this year. The January 2019 issue was the magazine's last regular print issue. The magazine may, however, print special editions occasionally.