Discovery Communications Inc. is investing $100 million in a new digital media holding company, Group Nine Media. The new company will serve as an umbrella organization for four established firms: Thrillist Media Group, NowThis Media, The Dodo and Discovery’s own digital network Seeker as well as its SourceFed Studios.
Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer will serve as CEO of Group Nine once the deal closes toward the end of this year.
“Today marks the start of a strong new company with tremendous brands, reach and scale,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications, in a statement. “The merger of these assets will bring together best-in-class management, led by Ben and his team, expertise in data analytics technology and global reach to create one of the world’s largest digital-first content companies attracting young passionate enthusiasts that advertisers want to reach.”
Discovery, with its 35 percent stake, joins other investors in the venture. Germany’s Axel Springer is Group Nine’s second-largest investor. All told, the companies that make up Group Nine will combine to generate 3.5 billion globally monthly video views. Once the deal is closed, Discovery can run advertising across all of these platforms, covering linear TV, digital and social content and live events. Discovery also will have the option to buy a controlling stake in Group Nine Media.
Three of the companies are backed by New York-based venture capitalist firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures, which is co-headed by former Huffington Post chairman Ken Lerer and former Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau. Lerer and Hippeau co-founded NowThis Media and sit on the boards and serve as investors in many technology start-ups.
Thrillist and soon-to-be Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer is Ken Lerer’s son. Hippeau’s daughter, Andrea, has is a senior associate at her father’s firm and has served as general manager of The Dodo, which was founded by Ken Lerer’s daughter Izzie.
READ MORE: Variety
[Image courtesy of Variety]