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Vox Media, Inc.
Formerly
SportsBlogs Inc. (2005–2011)
Private
Industry Digital media
Founded July 14, 2005; 13 years ago (2005-07-14)
Founders
Headquarters Washington, D.C., U.S.
Key people
Brands
Website voxmedia.com

Vox Media, Inc. is an American digital media based in Washington, D.C. and New York City.[2] The company founded in July 2005 as SportsBlogs Inc. by Jerome Armstrong, Tyler Bleszinski, and Markos Moulitsas, and was refounded as Vox Media in 2011 by Joshua Topolsky.[3][4] Vox Media owns seven editorial brands—The Verge, Vox, SB Nation, Eater, Polygon, Curbed and Recode—and formerly also Racked. Vox Media's brands are built on Concert, a publisher-led market place for advertising, and Chorus, its proprietary content management system.[5]

The company owns and operates offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco. The network features over 300 sites with over 400 paid writers.[6][7]

History[edit]

Founding and expansion in sports media[edit]

Vox Media was founded in 2005 as SportsBlogs, Inc., the parent company of the sports blog network SB Nation, by political strategist Jerome Armstrong, freelance writer Tyler Bleszinski, and Markos Moulitsas (creator of Daily Kos).[6][7] The site was a spin-off and expansion of Tyler Bleszinski's Oakland Athletics blog Athletics Nation, which sought to provide coverage of the team from a fan's perspective. The popularity of the site led to other sports blogs being incorporated.[8]

In 2008, SB Nation hired former AOL executive Jim Bankoff as CEO to assist in its growth. He showed interest in SB Nation's goal of building a network of niche-oriented sports websites.[8][9] As of February 2009, the SB Nation network contained 185 blogs, and in November 2010, ComScore estimated that the site had attracted 5.8 million unique visitors. The 208 percent increase in unique visitors over November 2009 made SB Nation the fastest-growing sports website the company tracked at the time.[10]

Continued growth and expansion into other content areas[edit]

In 2011, Bankoff hired a number of former writers from AOL's technology blog Engadget, including former editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky, to build a new technology-oriented website.[8] They had originally left AOL following a series of conflicts between Topolsky and Michael Arrington, author of TechCrunch (which AOL had recently acquired), and the leak of an internal training document that outlined a content strategy for AOL's blogs that prioritized profitability. Bankoff felt that a technology-oriented website would complement SB Nation due to their overlapping demographics.[9] In November, the renamed Vox Media officially launched The Verge, with Topolsky as editor-in-chief.[9][11]

In 2012, Vox launched a video gaming website, Polygon, led by former Joystiq editor Christopher Grant.[12]

In November 2013, Vox Media acquired the Curbed network, which consisted of the real-estate blog network Curbed, the food blog Eater, and the fashion blog Racked.[13]

In April 2014, the company launched an eponymous news website, Vox.com. Led by former Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, Vox.com was positioned as a general interest news service with a focus on providing additional context to recurring subjects within its articles.[14][15]

In March 2015, Vox Media formed a new division known as Vox Entertainment and signed with WME. The division was created to expand the company's presence in developing online video programming.[16]

In May 2015, Vox Media acquired Recode, a technology industry news website that was founded by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the former editors of The Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD.[17]

On May 30, 2017, Vox Media announced that it had entered into an agreement to provide technology and advertising sales for Bill Simmons' sports website The Ringer, as part of a revenue sharing agreement.[18]

Employment and labor[edit]

In January 2018, Vox Media agreed to recognize a labor union being formed by its editorial staff with the Writers Guild of America, East.[19]

On February 21, 2018, it was reported that Vox would be laying off around 50 employees, particularly surrounding video production. CEO Jim Bankoff stated previously that the company planned to exit native video for Facebook due to "unreliable monetization and promotion". The memo announcing the layoffs argued that despite its success, native video "won't be viable audience or revenue growth drivers for us relative to other investments we are making", and that the company wanted to focus more on podcasting and Vox Entertainment.[20] The layoffs represented around 5% of Vox's workforce.[21]

Funding[edit]

In December 2014, Vox Media raised a $46.5 million round led by the growth equity firm General Atlantic, estimating the media company's value at around $380 million.[22] Participants in Vox Media's previous rounds include Accel Partners, Comcast Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Other funders are Allen & Company, Providence Equity Partners, and various angel investors, including Ted Leonsis, Dan Rosensweig, Jeff Weiner, and Brent Jones.[7][23][24] According to sources, the Series C in May 2012, valued Vox at $140 million.[25] A Series D valued the company north of $200M, raising an additional $40M[26][27]

In August 2015, NBCUniversal made a $200 million equity investment in Vox Media, valuing the company at more than $1 billion.[28]

Properties[edit]

Vox Media is made up of seven media brands: The Verge (technology, culture, and science), Vox (general interest news), SB Nation (sports), Polygon (gaming), Eater (Food and Nightlife), Curbed (real estate and home), and Recode (technology business).[29]

SB Nation[edit]

SB Nation (originally known as Sports Blog Nation) is a sports blogging network, founded by Tyler Bleszinski and Markos Moulitsas in 2005. The blog from which the network formed was started by Bleszinski as Athletics Nation in 2003, and focused solely on the Oakland Athletics.[30] It has since expanded to cover sports franchises on a national scale, including all Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League teams, as well as college and soccer teams, totaling over 300 community sites.[31][32] In 2011, the network expanded into technology content with The Verge, leading to the parent company Sports Blogs Inc. being rebranded as Vox Media.[31][33] Vox Media's chief executive, Jim Bankoff, has served as SB Nation's CEO since 2009.[31] The network expanded into radio programming in mid-2016 with SB Nation Radio, in partnership with Gow Media.[34]

The Verge[edit]

The Verge is a technology news site, which launched on November 1, 2011; it was originally staffed by former employees of Engadget, including former editor Joshua Topolsky and the new site's editor-in-chief Nilay Patel.[35] While Topolsky and his team were developing the new site, a "placeholder" site called This Is My Next was created to allow them to continue writing articles and producing podcasts.[36] Topolsky described the site as being an "evolved version of what we [had] been doing [at AOL]."[37][38]

As of February 2014, the site had 7.9 million unique visitors according to ComScore.[39]

Vox[edit]

Vox launched in April 2014; it is a news website that employs explanatory journalism. The site's editor-in-chief is Lauren Williams.

Polygon[edit]

The video game website Polygon launched in 2012 as Vox Media's third property, and publishes news, culture, reviews, and videos.[40][41] The site's founding staff included the editors-in-chief of the gaming sites Joystiq, Kotaku (Brian Crecente), and The Escapist.[42] Staff published on The Verge as "Vox Games" beginning in February 2012, and launched as Polygon in October.[41] The network features long-form journalism that focuses on the people making and playing the games rather than the games alone, and uses a "direct content sponsorship" model of online advertising.[42][43] Christopher Grant serves as the current editor.[44]

Curbed[edit]

Curbed is a real-estate/home website that reaches beyond New York City to publish in 32 markets across the U.S. It was founded in 2004 as a side project by Lockhart Steele, managing editor of Gawker Media. Curbed was bought by Vox Media when the company acquired Curbed Network in November 2013 for $20–30 million in cash and stock.[45] In addition to the national site, Curbed has local sites for Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Cape Cod, Chicago, Detroit, Hamptons, New York City, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Ski. The Editor in Chief is Kelsey Keith.

Eater[edit]

Eater is a food and dining network of sites, offering reviews and news about the restaurant industry. The network was founded by Lockhart Steele and Ben Leventhal in 2005, and originally focused on dining and nightlife in New York City. Eater launched a national site in 2009,[46] and covered nearly 20 cities by 2012.[47] Vox Media acquired Eater, along with two others comprising the Curbed Network, in late 2013.[48] In 2017, Eater had around 25 local sites in the United States in Canada, and launched its first international site in London.[49] The site has been recognized four times by the James Beard Foundation Awards.[50][51]

Recode[edit]

Vox Media acquired technology news website Recode in May 2015.[52]

Former properties[edit]

Racked[edit]

Racked was a retail/shopping website which covers style. It was acquired by Vox Media when the company acquired Curbed Network in November 2013.[45] In December 2014, the site had 11.2 million page views and 8 million unique visitors.[53] In addition to the national site, Racked has local sites for Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, and San Francisco.[54][55] The editor-in-chief is Britt Aboutaleb.[56] Racked was folded into Vox in September 2018.[57]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Digital Media Hub Vox Valued at $1B as NBCUniversal Invests". Inc.com. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  3. ^ "Bloomberg Hires a Founder of The Verge to Lead Online Initiatives".
  4. ^ "Bloomberg Hires a Founder of The Verge to Lead Online Initiatives". Retrieved July 3, 2018. Mr. Topolsky, who was the editor in chief of the technology site Engadget until 2011, helped to found The Verge, and was one of the creators of its parent company, Vox Media.
  5. ^ Leslie Kaufman, "Vox Takes Melding of Journalism and Technology to a New Level," The New York Times, April 6, 2014.
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