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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Integrated Media Company (IMC), the digital media investment arm of private equity giant TPG, has acquired the majority stake in StackCommerce, an e-commerce platform that connects publishers with brands to sell products through content.

Why it matters: "TPG is an investor in a lot of media companies," says Josh Payne, Founder and CEO of StackCommerce. "Those connections are incredibly valuable."

  • IMC will acquire a majority stake in StackCommerce, and Payne will retain most of the minority stake. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

StackCommerce, which brought in $80 million in gross revenue in 2020, saw its business boom in light of pandemic-driven e-commerce demand, Payne says.

  • Publishers that were wary about e-commerce prior to the crisis began to change their minds in Q2 and Q3 of last year when the ad market crashed, Payne notes.
  • The company saw a 50% increase in gross sales year-over-year in 2020.

The big picture: IMC sees the investment as an opportunity to better integrate e-commerce into the revenue strategies of some of its existing media investments. Last year, it acquired a majority stake in Goal — a global digital soccer brand — from DAZN.

Catch up quick: Payne founded StackCommerce over nine years ago in Los Angeles. The company has since grown to become the e-commerce platform of choice for over 1,000 publishers, including CNN, Mashable, Hearst, TMZ and more.

  • It also works with more than 5,000 brands — mostly independent or direct-to-consumer companies — to help connect them to media companies to sell their products via content recommendations.

Be smart: Affiliate marketing isn't new, but the industry is outdated. Most media companies use in-house editors or freelancers to write articles pushing content to Amazon or other big retailers.

  • As seen during the early days of the pandemic when companies like Amazon pulled the plug on commissions, it can be devastating for media businesses to be overly-reliant on a few big distributors for cash.
  • Like Shopify, StackCommerce acts as a middleman between brands and publishers, but it's not a wholesaler. The company gives publishers access to purchasing data so that publishers can optimize their content for better returns.

Publishers like StackCommerce because it pays them a higher percentage of the goods they sell through sponsored content than traditional affiliate marketing agreements.

  • Media companies are typically paid out up to 20% for the products they help push via StackCommerce, instead of the typical 5% cut.
  • To-date, StackCommerce's publishing partners have earned more than $175 million from e-commerce deals through the platform.

Brands like StackCommerce because the company helps them find inventory to place sponsored content.

  • StackCommerce will also help companies market their products via content beyond publisher websites, through paid social media promotion on apps like Instagram, Facebook and increasingly TikTok.

What's next: With the investment, Payne is hoping to acquire additional affiliate commerce tools and potentially a few direct-to-consumer brands that StackCommerce can help grow through its commerce platform.

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.