In a merging of Los Angeles new media glitz and Brooklyn hipster chic, Danny Zappin’s Zealot Networks is acquiring the Brooklyn-based media and events mini-empire, the Northside Media Group.
Founded by brothers Scott and Daniel Stedman, Northside Media publishes the L Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, and organizes of events like the Northside Festival, a six day extravaganza of music, art, film, and technology (akin to SXSW).
The two have been mainstays and boosters of Brooklyn (and by extension the Williamsburg scene) since the mid-2000s, and have used their expanding publishing and events platform as a way to proselytize for their vision of the borough as “an international adjective meaning ‘what’s next’.”
Now, thanks to the merger with Zealot, the two have an opportunity to bring that sensibility to an even wider audience.
“We’re really focused on building an entertainment and media company around passion-based communities, both online and in the real world,” says Zappin, the former chief executive of Maker Studios.
At Zealot, Zappin has been on an acquisition streak, building up a portfolio of agencies and media properties.
“We have a three-phased plan for what we’re doing at Zealot,” Zappin says. The first phase was rolling up properties like talent management agencies, the branding and advertising firm Lord Danger, and now, Northside Media. In the latter half of the year, Zappin intends to producing more content and building out the company’s digital publishing network.
We’re a community building company and speak passionately to a community we understand and admire. Scott Stedman
Through the deal for Northside (which is a combination of cash and Zealot equity), the Stedman brothers will still operate under the brand they built, but will look to bring Northside content and events into new geographies.
“For us… at our core when we launched we were a local media company and a regional media group,” says Scott Stedman. “We have transformed our business from being a regional media group to a company that takes a relevant community, builds products for them, and applies them wherever it’s relevant.”
The company has definitely come a long way. What began as a free weekly print magazine focused on, and catering to, the L-train contingent of new arrivals to Brooklyn (and more specifically Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and later Bushwick) is now a multimedia company sponsoring food and cultural events in New York and Chicago, running two magazines and websites, and a cultural festival in Brooklyn.
“We’re a community building company and speak passionately to a community we understand and admire,” Stedman says.
With Zealot’s backing, Stedman is looking to grow that community, by developing an international version of the Northside festival and transitioning the company’s quarterly Brooklyn magazine to a monthly.
“Because the traditional revenue models for media have gotten confusing, it’s forced companies to really evaluate the way people have been consuming their media. Publishers are trying to take a much more holistic approach to providing experiences to these different communities,” Stedman says.