Fexy Media acquires Serious Eats, Roodfood websites
With $40 million behind it, Seattle new media start-up, founded by husband and wife team, is on the prowl for digital media properties to add to its growing portfolio
The back story to the acquisition of two websites in the food space is that there is a digital media start-up out there that is well funded and on the lookout for acquisitions.
Fexy Media has $40 million from a round of funding by Tritium Partners of Austin, Texas and looking for deals in the range of a $100,000 to $20 million, the company said late last year.
The Seattle based company was founded by Cliff and Lisa Sharples, who co-founded Garden.com in 1995, perfect timing to get VC funding as the Internet boom blossomed. Lisa Sharpes later was VP of marketing at Classmates.com, then moved over to Readers Digest where she eventually became president of Allrecipes.com, leaving one year after its acquisition by Meredith.
The duo clearly know how to get financial backing, the question now is can they aggregate and run a diverse media company? The goal, likely, is to find the one big property that will spur a larger media firm to want to buy out Tritium Partners a few years down the road as the VC funding wheel goes round and round. After all, Meredith spent $175 million in 2012 to buy Allrecipes.com.
(Tritium Partners has also backed RetailMeNot, which TNM has written about several times in the past – see this story, for example.)
Seattle, Wash. – June 2, 2015 — Fexy Media, a new digital video media company run by co-CEOs Cliff and Lisa Sharples, makes a major play in the food space with the addition of Serious Eats and Roadfood to their growing portfolio of lifestyle brands. Lisa Sharples previously served 6 years as president of Allrecipes.com, leading the company from its early growth phase through an acquisition by Meredith for $175 million in 2012.
Fexy Media, launched in 2014, includes Fexy Brands, a portfolio of properties focused on digital video for millennials spanning the food, lifestyle, finance, health, and parenting categories with over 10 million monthly unique visitors; Fexy Studios, a digital video production studio focused on creating and distributing expert-driven content; and Fexy Labs, a proprietary social content marketing analytics company that offers industry-leading insight on the social velocity and viability of content and brands.
“Fexy Media is a next-generation media company built around 20+ years of experience in the media and technology industries, combined with a passion for creating great products, strong brands, and engaged communities,” said Cliff Sharples, co-CEO of Fexy Media. “Lisa and I are thrilled to work with Serious Eats and Roadfood, inspired by the awards and accolades both have received—including 5 James Beard Awards—and excited about the opportunities Fexy can offer to our advertisers and content partners.”
Serious Eats is “the world’s most trusted authority on deliciousness.” Founded by Ed Levine, former New York Times contributor, Serious Eats provides a democratic yet scientific approach to cooking the best dishes, busting food myths, and delivering strong opinions on what you should eat next, where, when, and why. The site includes original recipes, restaurant and dish reviews, entertaining tips, and more.
“One of the biggest contributors to the steady growth Serious Eats has experienced is the authenticity of the brand, content, and community—three things Fexy Media values as its highest priorities,” said CEO Ed Levine. “Joining with Fexy gives Serious Eats access to technologies we’ve never had before, an ability to invest more significantly in our digital video offering, and offers our brand a tremendous amount of synergy and opportunity for partnerships with the other portfolio companies.”
Roadfood, the iconic brand founded by Jane and Michael Stern, New York Times Bestselling authors and winners of 3 James Beard Awards, celebrates regional and small town highway eateries and sleeves-up food made by America’s culinary folk artists. Nora Ephron wrote in the New York Times, “[Jane and Michael Stern] deserve a room of their own in the Smithsonian Institution.” The Sterns tour the U.S. selling out shows about their adventures and writing reviews of small local roadside diners. They have published over 40 books and are regular guests on public radio’s award-winning The Splendid Table.
“We’ve been on the road for 40 years together and we’re thrilled that Fexy is joining us as we continue this adventure,” said Jane Stern of Roadfood. “Joining forces with Fexy means we have a new buffet of technology to complement Roadfood and an opportunity to work with some of the other great brands in the Fexy portfolio.”
Fexy Media is co-founded by Lisa Sharples; husband Cliff Sharples, digital entrepreneur who has founded several venture backed companies and most recently served as COO of The Cheezburger Network; and Ben Sternberg, who has extensive experience investing and leading M&A transactions in the digital media space, most recently with The Raine Group. To date Fexy Media has acquired 5 companies, and is backed by Tritium Partners, led by Phil Siegel and David Lack, who previously spearheaded numerous successful investments including HomeAway and RetailMeNot.