Jul 12, 2022 - Economy

Climate media startup raises $5.7 million

Illustration of an electrical plug and cord forming the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

A group of media veterans is launching a new digital media and commerce company called The Cool Down with $5.7 million in a funding round led by Upfront Ventures.

Why it matters: As climate change becomes more mainstream, the company’s founders believe more money will flow toward eco-friendly goods. They see an opportunity in becoming a trusted source for climate change content, so that one day they can be a trusted voice in sustainable purchase recommendations.

  • “This is a tipping-point moment,” said Anna Robertson, co-founder of The Cool Down and former ABC and Yahoo News executive. “There is a transition in our society towards less wasteful products,” she said, noting the rise of electric cars, electric lawnmowers and other products that aim to cut carbon dioxide production.

Details: The company is founded and led by Robertson and Dave Finocchio, co-founder and longtime CEO of Bleacher Report, the digital sports media company.

  • It will launch with original content on climate change created by journalists for its own website, Instagram and TikTok. Once the company builds an audience on those platforms, it will expand to others, Robertson said.
  • It plans to roll out an e-commerce marketplace in 2023 for a wide array of eco-friendly goods, ranging from induction stoves to deodorants, heat pumps and more.
  • The marketplace will be editorially curated by climate journalists and product experts, bringing transparency and accessibility to eco-friendly product reviews.
  • At launch, the company will have 10 full-time employees, mostly in content, and about 10 additional freelancers.

Between the lines: In addition to Upfront Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Jetstream, Swingbridge and Niche Capital also participated in the round.

  • Angel investors include The Ringer founder Bill Simmons, former Credo Beauty CEO Dawn Dobras and music and marketing entrepreneurs Rick Farman and Richard Goodstone.

What's next: The company plans to raise more capital in subsequent rounds as it grows, Finocchio said.

  • The founders have no plan to make money selling advertising, but the company will experiment with affiliate partnerships as it begins to start recommending products. It will use data from engagement with its content to inform its product-recommendation roadmap.
  • Eventually, The Cool Down expects most of its revenue to come from its marketplace business, but it will continue to invest heavily in building an audience through content.

Be smart: The content strategy for The Cool Down reflects the lessons Finocchio learned running Bleacher Report (19.2 million Instagram followers) and owning the popular House of Highlights Instagram account (34.9 million followers).

  • Both accounts leverage clips of viral moments and celebrity voices to help make the content accessible and viral.
  • "There isn’t a hub for climate content and something positive about it that influential people are getting involved with and flexing on," Finocchio said. "The subject matter needs to be normalized."

The big picture: Climate-focused news initiatives are continuing to grow as the issue becomes more mainstream, but readership for climate on most mainstream outlets still pales compared to weather.

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