Dudes, bros, guys -- whatever you want to call them -- are the latest target for venture capitalists, who are displaying a continued appetite for advertising-supported news websites.
BroBible, Uproxx and a network of about dozen other dot-coms aimed at young men said Thursday that it has raised $18 million in funding. The star-studded investment in Woven Digital, based in Culver City, caps a second-straight bright year for online media startups. Vox Media, Buzzfeed, Business Insider and HelloGiggles were among media companies together receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in capital this year.
Woven plans to spend its new cash to double its sales team to 28 people, expand its editorial department and produce more short-form videos. Woven owns pop culture website Uproxx and infotainment destination BroBible. But most of its network is composed of partner websites that turn to Woven as the exclusive supplier of premium advertising. Partners include theCHIVE, Cheezburger, Dime Magazine and Barstool Sports.
When smashed together, Woven's portfolio pulls in 90 million unique viewers each month, according to the company's internal metrics. By the end of 2015, revenue should reach $10 million a month, said Woven Chief Executive Scott Grimes.
Some content on Woven-network websites can come across as salacious or tawdry, but Grimes said the key is that it's mixed with "gritty reporting" that informs people in a way that they want to come back again.
"We've pieced it together with what's extremely culturally relevant right now," he said. "We can reach the millennial culture audience, so advertisers only want to do more."
Investors and Grimes are also excited about what can come from adapting Woven's mostly written-word content into new forms. There are plans for three video series for the Web: They'll look at underground sports leagues, up-and-coming artists and cutting-edge scientists. Woven is also working with several other production firms to take a hip-hop music news website and develop a movie based off it.
"We're just now scratching the surface at taking a concept off a Web property and pushing it to a different medium," Grimes said. "There's a ton of interest because we create 300 pieces of content a day."
Woven had previously raised about $5.5 million. New investors include Silicon Valley firm Institutional Venture Partners, United Talent Agency and MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe. Advancit Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by CBS Corp. vice-chair Shari Redstone, also participated.
Among other investors were the San Francisco 49ers football team and former NBA players Baron Davis and Jermaine O'Neal.