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Exclusive: Morning Brew hires Sara Badler as ad chief

Dec 6, 2023
Photo illustration of Sara Badler surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Dotdash Meredith

Morning Brew has hired Sara Badler, formerly of Dotdash Meredith, as chief commercial officer, advertising, she exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: The hire marks the 8-year-old digital media company's ambitious effort to bolster revenue amid a difficult market, operating under the ownership of Axel Springer's Business Insider.

Details: Badler started Monday, reporting to CEO Austin Rief.

  • She spent the past five years at Dotdash Meredith, most recently as chief revenue officer, enterprise advertising and partnerships. Prior, she worked as the director of programmatic advertising at the New York Times. She previously worked at Hearst and Forbes.
  • Badler will be responsible for revenue growth, managing sales, strategy operations, insights, analytics and the creative studio.
  • "I'm a huge fan," Badler says of Morning Brew. "Everything that they've done is amazing. It's one of those companies that has exploded in terms of diversification."

Catch up quick: Morning Brew started in 2015 as a single business-focused newsletter. It has since grown to a larger suite of newsletters, along with a website, podcasts, videos and a strong presence across social media including Instagram and TikTok.

What's next: Despite Badler's past experience in programmatic advertising, she says that revenue source is not currently a part of Morning Brew's business nor a future priority.

  • Potential revenue and audience growth areas include "Morning Brew Daily," a daily talk show on YouTube and podcast platforms, and "Bossy," its women-focused financial podcast, Badler says.
  • "Our market has been very unpredictable in the past couple of years, but we are excited for 2024," Badler says. "The way we're figuring out, for the brand, social and multi-platform is really cool."

By the numbers: Morning Brew reported $20 million in 2020 revenue, $46 million in 2021 and an estimated $70 million in 2022. Rief declined to share 2023 figures.

  • "Morning Brew Daily" surpassed 2 million downloads per month in October after launching in February, Rief says.
  • Morning Brew doubled its Instagram following over the past year to 1.1 million followers.
  • Its nine newsletters have about 6 million total subscribers, Rief says.
  • The company has 215 employees.

Flashback: In September, Morning Brew parted ways with its chief operating officer and chief revenue officer. In an internal memo at that time, Rief said the company was "actively searching" for a new CRO and that one of his key priorities was revenue growth.

  • Badler tells Axios that she's currently fulfilling the CRO role.
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