May 24, 2019

Scoop: Refinery29 aims to raise $20 million

The Refinery29 founders; from left to right: Christene Barberich, Justin Stefano, Piera Gelardi, and Philippe von Borries. Photo: Refinery29

Refinery29, the venture-backed digital media company focused on millennial women, is looking to raise up to $20 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing.

Why it matters: The company plans to use the funds to expand internationally and for its originals studio and events business, Axios has learned. The company was rumored to be in merger talks with Group Nine Media, another millennial-focused venture-backed brand recently, though there's no concrete deal at the moment, according to sources.

Details: The company has already raised at least $8 million, according to the filing.

  • The funds comes from existing backers: Stripes Group, Discovery Communications Inc. (formerly Scripps Network Interactive), WarnerMedia (previously Turner Broadcasting) and WPP, and it hopes to raise the remainder from international investors, according to a source familiar with the deal.
  • The new investment, which would be in the form of convertible debt, would bring the total amount the firm has raised to $145.4 million since 2010.

Between the lines: The new fundraising comes amid recent challenges, including an increasingly competitive digital advertising landscape.

  • The company has also gone through a series of layoffs over the last few years. Most recently, in October, Refinery29 confirmed that it would lay off 40 employees — roughly 10% of its staff. In December 2017, it laid off 34 employees.
  • Executives recently told Business Insider that the company brought in more than $100 million in revenue last year.

The big picture: In recent months, Refinery29 has been focused on expanding its coverage and events business internationally.

  • In January, it announced a multiyear deal with Endeavor's IMG, an events and talent management company, to expand its flagship pop-up event, 29Rooms, to Canada and Europe.
  • In March, it hired Katherine Tooley from Superfly as senior vice president of experiential events.

Yes, but: While Refinery29 seems committed to pushing forward with its expansion plans, a potential merger isn't completely off the table, say sources.

Refinery29 declined to comment and investors did not respond to requests for comment.

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