Cloud-based monetization platform Aria Systems announced last week that it raised $18 million in new capital in a funding round led by Madison Bay Capital along with Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, InterWest Partners and Venrock. The new funding, which will help fuel additional growth at Aria Systems, brings the total raised to date to $150 million. In addition, the company announced that Steve Reale, managing partner of Madison Bay Capital Partners, and Drew Harman, Director of InterWest Partners, will join Aria’s board of directors.
To kick off the new school year, Spotify and Hulu have teamed up to offer a premium subscription bundle for college students. For $4.99 a month, students can listen to their favorite music on Spotify, and watch their favorite TV shows on Hulu with a single subscription. They are calling the bundle Spotify Premium for Students, now with Hulu.
While Equifax and Amazon dominated subscription news headlines this week, other subscription companies had their time in the spotlight too. Medium added Bloomberg and other publications to its subscription service, Postmates expanded its Prime-style subscription to 250,000 merchants, and when it wasn’t busy with the launch of the latest iPhone, Apple worked a music deal with Warner. Also this week, Kobo challenges Audible, movie execs weigh their options, and Trinity Mirror is going shopping!
Two social media influencers, Trevor Martin, ‘TmarTn’ and Thomas Cassell of The Syndicate Project, settled with the Federal Trade Commission on charges that they failed to disclose their ownership in CSGO Lotto when they endorsed the online gaming company. According to the FTC, Martin and Cassell paid other social media influencers thousands of dollars to promote CSGO Lotto on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Twitch, but failed to disclose this in their social media posts. As part of the settlement, the FTC is requiring the pair to ‘clearly and conspicuously disclose any material connections with an endorser or between an endorser and any promoted product or service.’
Known for its unique, high quality content, The Atlantic is trying something new. In addition to its print and digital subscription offerings which range in price from $24.50 to $34.50 per year, the 160-year-old magazine just launched The Masthead, a $100-a-year premium membership that will provide exclusive content to subscribers. According to The Masthead’s landing page, subscribers will get exclusive content not available elsewhere and they can help ‘fund the future of sustainable journalism.’
On September 1, streaming device company Roku filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of up to $100 million with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Roku intends to be listed on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol ROKU. In its SEC Form S-1, Roku said it pioneered streaming to TV, connecting users with streaming content on-demand from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. The company currently earns revenue from the sale of its streaming players and platform revenue from advertising and subscription revenue share.
Just when you thought Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) couldn’t get any bigger, it does. On Thursday, Amazon announced that it plans to build a second company headquarters, Amazon HQ2, in North America, and it will spend more than $5 billion in construction and operation costs. This will serve as a complementary, but fully operational headquarters, to Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Amazon said it expects to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs as well as invest tens of billions of dollars in the community surrounding Amazon HQ2. Amazon currently employs more than 380,000 people worldwide.
On Thursday, Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX), one of the three major credit reporting agencies, disclosed that they experienced a massive data breach between mid-May through July 2017 that could affect as many as 143 million U.S. consumers. In a statement, the company said it had no evidence of unauthorized activity on its core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases. The information accessed illegally includes names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. The FTC reports that 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen and dispute documents with personally identifying information from 182,000 people. Some consumers in Canada and the U.K. also had their personal information stolen.
In this week’s subscription news round-up, Conde Nast employees are anticipating ‘heavy’ cuts to editorial and business teams as the company’s restructuring continues, and News UK gets creative to find funding sources, inviting six companies to its incubator program to help identify revenue streams. Also this week, we’re reading about DirecTV getting hit with a $15 million bill due to some questionable tax reporting, Facebook trying to monetize its WhatsApp messaging app, and Apple biting into market share with its Accenture deal. We’ve got those headlines and more to kick off your weekend.
Last month Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH), which owns a portfolio of 45 brands including Match.com, Tinder, PlentyofFish and other dating sites, posted strong second quarter financials for 2017. The company reported revenue of $310 million, a 12 percent increase over the same period last year, driven by 15 percent growth in average paid member count (PMC) to 6.1 million. In its earnings announcement, Match Group reported that average PMC at Tinder exceeded 2 million for the first time, representing an 86 percent increase over the same period last year. This is due, in part, to the launch of Tinder Gold, a members-only premium subscription Tinder started testing this summer.
Last week Workday, Inc. (NYSE: WDAY), an enterprise cloud application provider for the finance and human resource sectors, reported its quarterly financials for the fiscal second quarter ended July 31, 2017. The company reported total revenue of $525.3 million, representing a 40.6 percent increase over the same period last year. Subscription revenue was $434.5 million, a 42 percent increase year-over-year. Total revenues were higher than an analyst’s revenue estimate of $506.8 million, reported by Benzinga. Subscription revenue also exceeded the analyst’s estimate of $421.8 million.
Yesterday Tronc Inc. (NASDAQ: TRNC), formerly The Tribune Company, announced its purchase of Daily News, L.P., the owner of the New York Daily News and its news site NYDailyNews.com. With this purchase, Tronc adds another major media market to its list of well-known newsrooms that includes the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant and the San Diego Union-Tribune. As part of the deal, Tronc now also owns 100 percent of the New York Daily News’ printing facility in New Jersey and 49.9 percent interest in a joint venture that will own the 25-acre parcel on which the facility sits and that overlooks the skyline of Manhattan. The sales price was not disclosed.
Do you ever wonder how successful you might be in attaining your fitness goals if you used an activity tracker and worked with a personal coach? According to a recent Indiana University study about the behavioral aspects of activity trackers, 90 percent of participants said this winning combination has worked for them. To help more people benefit from such a strategy, Fitbit has launched Fitbit Coach, a new premium guidance and coaching service that provides subscribers with custom workouts, wellness programs, content and other tools tailored specifically for them, based on their activity data and health and wellness goals.
Hurricane Harvey has been stealing the headlines this week, but that hasn’t stopped subscription companies from making the news. In this week’s subscription news, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook won’t take a cut of publisher subscriptions, CBS Corp. moves to acquire Australia’s Network Ten, and Amazon slashes Music Unlimited prices to woo student subscribers. Also this week, Blue Apron is hit with multiple class action lawsuits, the legal battle between Benchmark and Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick heats up, and the Washington Post uses AI to maximize the effectiveness of native ads.
In May, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the largest owner of local TV stations in the country, agreed to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, including 42 stations, Chicago’s WGN America, and a minority stake in the Food Network. Nexstar and 21st Century Fox had also bid on Tribune Media. According to The New York Times, this deal would allow Sinclair to reach more than 70 percent of American households, including major metro markets like Chicago, New York, San Diego, Seattle and Los Angeles. To formally oppose the acquisition to the Federal Communications Commission, a coalition has formed, calling itself the Coalition to Save Local Media.