Vox Media acquires Re/code in all-stock deal for Revere Digital

Acquisiton comes about 17 months after the launch of the tech site following the team’s departure from News Corp-owned Dow Jones

The tech website launched by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Re/code, will have a new owner. Revere Digital, Re/code’s parent company, has been sold to Vox Media, the publisher of the SB Nation sports blogs, The Verge, and other websites.

Re/code was launched following the failure of The Wall Street Journal to resign the team to an extension to continue with Dow Jones (owned by News Corp). The WSJ then has rebuilt its tech team, and has had some success at that. Meanwhile Mossberg and Swisher went looking for investors to launch a new version of its tech website and conference business, launching Re/code about 17 months ago.

recode-screen-400“Re/code will benefit from joining Vox Media by integrating Vox Media’s various capabilities — including marketing, communications, audience development, sales and production,” Mossberg and Swisher wrote online this afternoon. “We will also eventually migrate to Vox Media’s beautiful, powerful and flexible proprietary publishing platform, which will give us new ways to present our stories to you.”

Vox Media already has a website dedicated to tech, The Verge, but the Re/code team says that while “the two sites occasionally overlap, we have focused on the business of tech, while The Verge has focused on covering tech from a lifestyle perspective.”

The Verge, meanwhile, is putting a positive spin on the acquisition saying “This is going to be fun.”

“Bringing Recode into the Vox Media fold means that The Verge can remain focused on being the best mainstream technology and lifestyle site in the world, and Recode can dig even deeper into how the money and business of technology works,” wrote Nilay Patel on The Verge.

The Verge traffic dwarfs that of Re/code (and probably why they don’t seem very concerned with the deal), with the site drawing more than 22 million uniques per month, while Re/code has about 2.3 million monthly uniques, with two-thirds of that in the U.S. market (according to Quantcast).

While Re/code’s conference business and website has ramped up fairly quickly, it is unlikely that the business was profitable yet. This may have made an acquisition attractive to all concerned, and lowered the eventual price Vox Media had to pay in the all stock deal. Minority investors and strategic partners in Revere Digital were NBCUniversal News Group and Terry Semel’s Windsor Media.

Swisher admitted to The New York Times in an interview this afternoon that Re/code found itself too small in Silicon Valley.

“Everybody is bigger than us,” Swisher told the Times. “It’s not a secret that being a smaller fish is really hard.”


The move will be interesting, and not just for how Re/code and The Verge get along. Re/code last year made the decision to end commenting on its new website, a decision that had certain self-proclaimed Internet cops upset. But the Vox Media websites are fully invested in reader comments to drive traffic, and do very well in this area (especially on its sports blogs). Comments drive traffic, which in turn drives page views and therefore ad revenue.

It’s been an interesting day in tech publishing, as earlier today it was announced that Gigaom have been purchased by an Austin-based Internet startup Knowingly Corp. That deal was for assets and content archives, as the publishing team at Gigaom are long gone.

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