Aug 23, 2021 - Economy

Vox Media acquires cocktail media brand "Punch"

Amanda Kludt, editor-in-chief of Eater (left) and Talia Baiocchi, founder and editor-in-chief of Punch. Photo: Vox Media

Vox Media, home to brands like "The Verge," "New York Magazine" and "SB Nation," is acquiring "Punch," a media company that covers drinks and cocktail culture, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: The deal, which closed Monday, marks the fifth acquisition for Vox Media in the past three years, and its ninth overall.

Catch up quick: Punch was founded in 2013 by its current editor-in-chief Talia Baiocchi, and Aaron Wehner, the EVP and publisher of Crown/Random House Publishing. The brand has published several books and gift products, in addition to its digital footprint that includes its website, newsletters, social media and more.

Details: Punch will remain an independent editorial brand within "Eater," Vox Media's food and restaurant media brand.

  • Baiocchi will join Vox Media and will report to Amanda Kludt, editor-in-chief of Eater and senior vice president at Vox Media.
  • Six employees from Punch will be joining Vox Media as part of the acquisition. 
  • “They (Vox Media) have found a way to scale brands while preserving their identity and integrity, and that was paramount to Punch in choosing a new home,” said Baiocchi.

With the acquisition, Vox Media plans to grow Punch's traffic and engagement, which also extending the brand's IP into new development opportunities, similar to what it's done for Eater.

  • Punch's online magazine will be supported by Eater and Vox Media’s broader resources across production, development, revenue, marketing and events expertise, per a statement.
  • "As a sister publication to Eater, Punch’s coverage of drinks and cocktail culture will complement Eater’s industry-leading coverage of food and restaurants," said Kludt.
  • Deal terms were not disclosed.
Vox Media's growth history
Table: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The big picture: The deal is Vox Media's latest acquisition, as it looks to expand its areas of opportunity ahead of a potential bid to go public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), or other large-scale deals.

  • The company acquired Cafe Studios, a podcast company, earlier this year, to bolster its audio business.
  • It acquired Epic Magazine in 2019, giving it a stronghold in Hollywood, and further boosting its licensing business. Sources have told Axios that Vox Media's studios business is targeting $100 million in revenue this year.
  • It's biggest deal to date was its 2019 merger with New York Media, which gave the company massive scale needed to compete for digital ad dollars.
  • Vox Media acquired Coral, a commenting technology, in 2019 that is part of a broader technology stack that it licenses to other publishers. Vox Media operates a digital ad marketplace called Concert, as well as a first-party data network called Forte.

Between the lines: Eater has been focusing on expanding its network, as the brand grows to include more licensing deals and podcasts.

  • Earlier this month, Eater formed a long-term partnership with Gastropod, one of the largest food podcasts.
  • Vox currently licenses several original food programming shows to Hulu in conjunction with Eater, including "Eater's Guide To The World."

What's next: Sources say the company is looking to continue exploring targeted merger and acquisition opportunities, like this deal, that will help strengthen its core brands and business verticals.

The bottom line: “This was just such a no-brainer for me," Kludt said.

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