Maker Media Nabs $5 Million In Funding And Yahoo Tech Editor Rafe Needleman

Right on the heels of adding a new social network for the DIY folks called MakerSpace, Maker Media has raised $5 million in funding from Ev Williams’ Obvious Ventures, Raine Ventures, Azure Capital, and previous investors OATV and Floodgate, as well as some debt financing from Square 1.

The funding has helped the media company to pull in Rafe Needleman to head up digital content. Needleman is a long-time technology editor who has been reviewing gadgets and gizmos for the last two decades in Silicon Valley. He joins Maker Media from his most recent gig as the editorial director for Yahoo Tech.

Maker Media tells us Needleman will be working quite heavily with video, as well as print and digital media. “Video is going to be a big part of what we focus on,” Maker Media CEO Gregg Brockway told TechCrunch over the phone about the news.

The move to hire Needleman is part of a larger push for the media company to expand the content side of the business. Needleman is a huge get for the business and will enable them to have someone on the team who can bring more focus to online brands.

The investment speaks to the growth and promise of Maker Media as a platform offering makers around the world content, commerce, and community opportunities. Gregg Brockway
Maker Media is the parent company to Make: magazine, Maker Faire, Maker Shed and Makezine. As mentioned above, it recently added MakerSpace as a way to pull together the content from each of its brands and offer a way for the Maker Faire community to share their projects online. But these brands can feel disjointed from one another.

Meanwhile, the company has experienced growth in each section, both online and off. Maker Faire ballooned to 130 events and 781,000 attendees worldwide in 2014, according to the enterprise. Maker Media expects those numbers to reach over 1 million participants this year. The funding also allows it to expand to more than 200 Maker Faires globally.

Make: magazine has also seen growth in readership. The print distribution now reaches 300,000 and its online properties, Maker Faire online, Maker Shed and Maker Camp reach nearly 4 million monthly unique visitors, according to Maker Media.

Maker Media has beefed up its team, hiring 30 people in the last 6 months, making a total of 90 employees to work on building out its technical and editorial initiatives, mainly to drive video, but also mobile.

“Our approach to mobile has been piecemeal, and the bar is going up every day,” Brockway said.

Maker Media told us that the funding round was a strategic one. It took $5 million in funding in 2013, after the split from O’Reilly Media. But this new object to build out digital media will need strategic guidance. Part of that is bringing in Needleman, and part of that is pulling in investors who can add to the conversation. Brockway said that was the case with the new investors. “This was strategic raise to get value-added investors involved in the business,” he said.

Obvious Ventures, founded by Twitter and Medium founder Ev Williams, and Raine Ventures, an entertainment venture fund are part of that. These new venture partners may be able to add digital media guidance as Maker Media continues to grow into a larger online content organization centered around the maker movement.

“We’re at an inflection point for the broader maker movement,” Brockway said. “The investment speaks to the growth and promise of Maker Media as a platform offering makers around the world content, commerce, and community opportunities.”

Brockway told us that we’ll see continued growth in the company and services offered and hinted that we may even see a marketplace on MakerSpace in the near future. “Having Rafe on board will really help push us forward with the direction of content,” he added.