May 17, 2022 - Economy

Scoop: Candle Media acquires digital publisher ATTN: for $150 million


Candle Media, the new media rollup company backed by Blackstone and led by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, is acquiring ATTN:, the digital media company that focuses on social change content for millennials and Gen-Z.

Why it matters: The deal gives ATTN: capital and access to Candle's portfolio companies and creator relationships to help the firm scale. It gives Candle access to a brand that has expertise in reaching a younger, socially-active audience.

Details: Sources close to the deal say Candle paid around $150 million for ATTN:. Candle paid $100 million in cash and stock and the deal could total $150 million with payouts.

  • ATTN: is profitable and makes money from licensing original content, consulting and producing branded content.
  • ATTN:’s existing senior management team, including co-founders Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno, will continue to oversee ATTN:’s day-to-day operations. Segal and Moreno both previously co-founded a voter non-profit called Our Time before launching ATTN:.
  • The Information reported in January that Candle and ATTN: were in talks.

Be smart: ATTN:'s focus on social change has become attractive for advertisers looking to message about their corporate social responsibility efforts via branded content.

  • In the past few years, the advocacy advertising sector has grown significantly in response to brands wishing to speak out around issues like climate, health and the economy during the pandemic.

Catch up quick: Founded in 2014, ATTN: has distinguished itself by focusing on videos about causes that go viral on social media.

  • Those videos often feature prominent political voices, such as Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Valerie Jarrett, who serves on ATTN:'s board.
  • It recently produced a viral video for former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urging Putin to stop the war in Ukraine. The video has been viewed millions of times online and has been reposted by many news outlets.

ATTN: benefited enormously from the wave of social good initiatives throughout the pandemic and the 2020 election.

  • The company landed a 7-figure deal with TikTok to produce videos for a new initiative called "TikTok for Good" last year. It also created a TikTok Studio that brings brands and influencers together to create content for the platform.
  • It partnered with Instagram in 2020 to produce a slate of memes, Reels, Stories and videos encouraging young people to vote.
  • ATTN: has worked with major TV networks like NBC and ABC to do live specials around topics like voting and COVID.

By the numbers: ATTN: raised $37 million across three funding rounds, according to Crunchbase. Most of its funding comes from venture capital firms.

  • The company raised $15 million in 2018 in a round led by Evolution Media. It raised $18 million in 2016 in a round led by TPG via Evolution Media Partners.

What they're saying: “ATTN: has a deep, digital-native understanding for how to cut through the noise and reach today’s audiences through engaging content on social media," said Mayer and Staggs in a statement.

  • “Partnering with Candle and their growing, talented team of creators will allow us to further this mission in a whole new way, accelerating our growth and reaching even more people with what we create," Segal and Moreno said.

The big picture: It’s the latest in a string of recent acquisitions by Candle to invest in companies that produce original intellectual property.

  • With the backing of Blackstone, Candle acquired film and digital production companies in the past year, including Faraway Road Productions, the content studio behind Fauda, Moonbug Entertainment, a UK-based digital content company that produced "Cocomelon," and Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine.
  • Earlier this year, Candle bought a minority stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s entertainment company, Westbrook Inc.

What’s next: The transaction is expected to close within the next month.

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