Updated Aug 29, 2023 - Economy

Scoop: Jeff Zucker in talks to invest in Front Office Sports

Chairman, WarnerMedia Jeff Zucker attends CNN Heroes at American Museum of Natural History on December 08, 2019 in New York City.

Chairman, WarnerMedia Jeff Zucker attends CNN Heroes at American Museum of Natural History on December 08, 2019 in New York City. Photo: Mike Coppola via Getty

The investment firm led by former CNN chief Jeff Zucker is in talks to back newsletter startup Front Office Sports, sources tell Axios. Discussions are ongoing and may not result in a deal.

Why it matters: It's the latest newsletter upstart being eyed by Zucker, who manages a $1 billion investment fund called RedBird IMI,

  • RedBird IMI is a joint venture between RedBird Capital Partners and Emirate-based International Media Investments (IMI). It launched last year to focus on media, entertainment and sports content properties.
  • Zucker reportedly has discussed investments in Graydon Carter's subscription newsletter company, AirMail, plus both Puck News and Punchbowl News.
  • RedBird IMI said last month it's launching a new non-fiction content studio led by former Time president Ian Orefice.

Catch up quick: Front Office Sports CEO Adam White launched the newsletter startup while in college in 2014.

  • Most of its products, which focus on the business of sports, are free.
  • FOS in 2021 began selling paid subscription products, mostly insights and data for sports business professionals, and says it has more than 40 employees.
  • To date the company only has raised $5 million from Crain Communications, at around a $25 million valuation.

Between the lines: There aren't too many media companies focused exclusively on the business of sports, particularly relatively to the industry's size, with the only two real rivals being Penske Media's Sportico and the Sports Business Journal.

  • RedBird has deep sports experience, owning pieces of pro clubs and media distributors, which could theoretically help Front Office Sports expand its audience and offerings.
  • That said, the newsletter business is struggling from both a weak ad market and inbox fatigue.

Representatives for Zucker, RedBird, and Front Office Sports either declined or didn't return requests for comment.

Editor's note: This piece was corrected to show Jeff Zucker has discussed an investment in AirMail, and has not already invested.

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