Oct 1, 2019

Exclusive: Dotdash acquires Liquor.com

DotDash

Dotdash has acquired Liquor.com, a digital media company that focuses on cocktails, spirits and entertaining, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's Dotdash's fourth acquisition of this nature this year. The multi-brand digital media company, owned by Barry Diller's Interactive Corp. (IAC), has been quietly building an empire of small, niche digital publications that publish evergreen, service content — or content that helps users answer questions, give advice or find ideas.

By the numbers: Deal terms were not disclosed, but according to Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel, the company paid roughly the same amount for the property as it did for Brides, the wedding-focused outlet previously owned by Condé Nast, earlier this year.

  • "This isn't fire sale," says Vogel. "It's an asset that we really like and we're paying a fair price for it." Vogel notes that DotDash's other acquisitions this year — Byrdie and MyDomaine — have also been roughly the same size.
  • DotDash is expected to bring in more than $150 million in revenue this year, from a combination of advertising and commerce, across its 10 brands.

Be smart: As a standalone, the acquisition seems small, but when combined with Dotdash's other acquisitions, Dotdash's investments are more sizeable.

  • For Vogel, the acquisition is part of a "portfolio deal," where the company invests in several smaller site acquisitions to reduce risk over multiple deals.
Data: Dotdash; Table: Axios Visuals

Details: Liquor.com's audience, like the rest of Dotdash's acquisition targets, is hyper-focused, catering to an audience that is looking for expertise in a particular subject, in this case, its cocktails and beverages.

  • DotDash plans to group the property with The Spruce, its food and home brand, as well as MyDomaine, its lifestyle and entertaining brand, to create a fuller vertical for advertisers to target.
  • "It's probably going to be the biggest cocktail and spirits place on internet," says Vogel. "Which allows us to serve advertisers in a giant category."
  • Kit Codik, Liquor.com Founder and CEO, will continue to lead Liquor.com at Dotdash.
  • The acquisition will include the acquisition of more than 10 staffers from Liquor.com that are primarily focused on editorial, which is similar to the way DotDash has structured its other deals.

The big picture: The Dotdash playbook of acquiring smaller, evergreen content sites with expertise in certain areas is becoming more attractive to media companies that are no longer simply focused on scale.

  • Case-in-point: Food52, a food and home goods site, said it sold a majority stake to TCG Capital Management for $83 million. TCG is a venture affiliate of The Chernin Group, which invests media, entertainment, and tech businesses. Food52 has for a long time focused on turning content into a viable commerce business.

What's next: DotDash has already begun bundling its portfolio of brands into four groups. The groupings make it easier for the publishing giant to sell bigger advertising and sponsorships across verticals.

  1. Health and wellness, Verywell
  2. Finance: Investopedia, The Balance
  3. Beauty and style: Byrdie, Brides, MyDomaine
  4. Food, beverage and home: TripSavvy, The Spruce, Liquor.com

Go deeper

Media's growing appetite for food content

Media's growing appetite for food content

Media companies looking to expand outside of advertising, and especially into commerce, are increasingly following the same path down the grocery aisle.

Why it matters: Food and beverage caters to nearly every demographic. When launching forays into commerce, media companies are finding this an easy place to start.

Go deeperArrowOct 29, 2019

Exclusive: The Chernin Group pours $50 million into MeatEater

Steven Rinella, host of MeatEater. Photo: MeatEater, Inc.

TCG, a venture affiliate of The Chernin Group that invests in media, entertainment, and tech businesses, has doubled down on its investment in MeatEater, the hunting brand that hit mainstream via its hit show on Netflix beginning in 2015.

Why it matters: Outdoor entertainment is a growing media category that TCG thinks is underserved, and can be monetized well through selling branded merchandise. "There's several billion dollars a year spent just from Americans in pursuit of their outdoor activities on commerce," says Mike Kerns, President of Digital at The Chernin Group.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Media mergers highlight arbitrary private valuations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A slew of digital media acquisitions over the past few weeks shows how unreliable private valuations can be.

Why it matters: The only way for anyone to really know how much any private company is worth is if it sells in an all-cash deal. When privately-held companies sell via all-stock transactions or via a mix of cash and stock, dealmakers can essentially make up the value of the assets they are looking to purchase.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019