Here’s another impressive financing round for an online media company: Woven Digital is announcing that it has raised $18 million in Series A funding.
That’s not quite as attention-grabbing as the $46.5 million raised by Vox Media, the $50 million raised by BuzzFeed, or the $250 million raised by Vice Media in the past few months. But hey, give it time. $18 million certainly looks pretty good for a Series A, and for Woven’s first institutional funding (it previously raised $5.5 million from angel investors).
Founded in 2010, Woven’s business includes sites that it owns (through acquisitions) and others where it has formed ad partnerships. For example, the company acquired Brobible and entertainment site Uproxx, and it has an exclusive partnership with theChive. (I recently wrote about how Resignation Media, the startup behind theChive, is moving into video.)
There are other sites in the network, but CEO Scott Grimes said those three account for “the vast majority” of the company’s traffic. And that traffic is sizable — Woven says its Google Analytics numbers show 5 million visitors daily, and 90 million per month, with 60 percent coming in via mobile. It also says that according to comScore, it has a bigger audience than Vice or Vox.*
As you can probably guess from the list of sites, Woven is pretty focused on a male audience. Grimes said the audience isn’t as guy-heavy as you might think (he estimated that it probably breaks down 65-35 male-female, or perhaps 60-40), but he also talked about the importance of focus: “We’ll always have more of a male editorial perspective or voice, especially for the near future.”
Until now, Grimes said the company had been “basically bootstrapped,” but it decided to raise the money “in order to scale the business in all our different dimensions.” That includes doubling the sales team, making big-name editorial hires, improving its video-production capabilities, and building its technical infrastructure, including its Thred platform.
“I think that’s what’s really going to separate these companies at the end of the day — who can build better technology,” he said. And yes, he admitted that he was also influenced by the big funding rounds for competing media companies: “You can’t see all the fundraising announcements and think, ‘Oh we’ll scale with our net profits every year and we’ll keep doubling.’ You need capital.”
The round was led by Institutional Venture Partners. Also investing: Advancit Capital, the San Francisco 49ers, United Talent Agency, “senior partners” from entertainment law firm Ziffren Brittenhanm, Myspace/SGN co-founder Chris DeWolfe, Buddy Media co-founder Mike Lazerow, and former NBA players Baron Davis and Jermaine O’Neal.
“Woven has reached a level of scale and growth in record time, which was what attracted us to invest in them,” said IVP’s Somesh Dash (who’s joining the Woven board of directors) in an emailed statement. “The millennial generation is well informed and passionate about pop culture. Woven programs for their in-depth interests and this sets them apart from other digital publishers.”
* The Woven Alliance did indeed have 53.8 million unique visitors in the US in October, according to comScore, compared to compared to 50.7 million for Vox and 24.7 million for Vice. However, a comScore spokesperson noted that this is a “custom entity” because it “includes other sites who Woven might have a relationship with but whose traffic is not technically assigned to the property.”