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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Be smart: Affiliate marketing isn't new, but the industry is outdated.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

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.