Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is leading a new $5 million investment in Business Insider, the blog network founded by Henry Blodget that focuses on business, tech and other news. The investment was mentioned in an internal memo from Blodget to staff — published by BI itself. Other investors in this round include RRE Ventures and Institutional Venture Partners, notes Bloomberg. This brings the total investment in Business Insider, which has some 15 million monthly visitors worldwide, up to $18.6 million since 2008.
Bezos is a long-time investor in startups: his portfolio includes Domo, Everfi, Behance, Uber and ZocDoc, among many others. In most cases the exact values of Bezos’ own participation is not disclosed.
Here, Blodget points out in that memo that the investment will be used across all areas of its business: editorial, tech/product, sales and marketing, subscriptions, and events, as well as a bigger office.
“Jeff’s investment grew out of a dinner he and I had about a year ago,” Blodget writes. “We talked about the business, and he was excited about it. (He sees some parallels with Amazon). A few months later, he expressed an interest in investing. My reaction was basically ‘Hell, yeah!’”
He points out that the investment signals an emphasis for BI on “customers” and “long-term focus.”
“Jeff’s vision, leadership, and philosophy at Amazon have inspired a whole generation of startups and entrepreneurs, including me. Amazon has always focused on customers first, knowing that, if they do a great job at that, everything else will take care of itself. This obsession with customers and long-term focus are the reasons that Amazon has been so successful,” Blodget writes. “And this philosophy is something that we very much want to emulate. (We have two sets of customers, obviously — readers and sponsors. And we’re obsessed with both).”
Business Insider has been cranking up the gears in its ambitions in the last couple of weeks. Blodget was featured in a hefty profile in the New Yorker by Ken Auletta, and the company also this week revealed a deal with Times Internet, the digital arm of the Times of India newspaper, to start an Indian edition of the newspaper. Similar to the international partnerships forged by Huffington Post (like TC, owned by AOL), which has expanded outside of the U.S. by teaming up with local newspapers both for profile building and gathering relevant local content.
But the investment also comes at a critical time when scale is perhaps not proving to be counterbalancing the costs of running the business. As ATD points out, the New Yorker profile reveals that BI apparently lost $3 million in 2012, and that it plans to bring in revenues of some $11 million in 2013.
Blodget was once banned from trading on Wall Street after SEC violations, although the New Yorker piece revealed that he is now, apparently, contemplating a return. It sees that Blodget wants to be careful not to cross interests any more in the future. Although Bloomberg highlights that one of the companies that Blodget used to cover during his time as a banker was Amazon.com, with very bullish projections on its share price; these days he says it will be disclosed on the site every time that Amazon is covered that Bezos is a backer of the blog.