Scoop: Jimmy Finkelstein raises $50M for new media venture
Jimmy Finkelstein, a longtime media investor and entrepreneur who formerly owned The Hill, has raised $50 million for his new venture called The Messenger, sources told Axios.
By the numbers: In total, he's hired roughly 35 people, with the goal of hiring several hundred more throughout the year. He's already brought on most of the company's senior leadership team, including a top editor, as he readies for a launch in the second quarter.
Why it matters: Most media upstarts push for earned media and press coverage ahead of launch, but Finkelstein has tried to avoid the spotlight, hiring dozens of executives and raising tens of millions of dollars mostly in secret.
Driving the news: The company has hired veteran entertainment journalist Dan Wakeford, formerly the editor-in-chief of People Magazine, as one of its top editors, sources told Axios. The Daily Beast first reported about Wakeford and the company's new name Monday.
- Wakeford will help lead a newsroom focused on four major topics, including entertainment, news, politics and sports, sources told Axios. The company may still try to hire another top executive to lead the newsroom with Wakeford, two sources said.
- Neetzan Zimmerman, the veteran audience development executive who famously helped grow The Hill into a traffic behemoth, is also joining the company as VP of content.
- Dana Miller, formerly the chief marketing officer of the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, has joined as chief activation officer.
- Kimberly Bernhardt, formerly the head of communications at Bustle parent BDG Media, is the chief communications officer.
- Mia Lehmkuhl Libby, who was most recently the chief revenue officer at The Daily Beast, has joined as chief revenue officer. Her hiring, as well as the hiring of Richard Beckman — Finkelstein's longtime right hand — as president, was reported by Semafor in October.
- Richard Beckman was formerly President of The Hill and President of Conde Nast.
Catch up quick: Finkelstein began raising money for his new venture in late 2021, shortly after he sold The Hill, a D.C.-based political newspaper, to Nexstar for $130 million.