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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Digital media companies are looking to consolidate with the help of SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies), an increasingly popular alternative for businesses to raise money via a public offering, without undertaking a traditional IPO process.

Driving the news: Group Nine Media is considering using a blank-check company to acquire some of its competitors, The Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Bustle Digital Group CEO Bryan Goldberg told The Information in September: “We would be logical candidates for something like a SPAC.”
  • Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti has said he is looking to roll up more sites under his empire aside from HuffPost. There's been reports that he may possibly look to do so via an SPAC.

Other media companies are using private investment to fuel new acquisitions.

  • Axel Springer, the German publishing giant that owns Insider Inc., told The Information last month it wants to use money from its new shareholder, private equity giant KKR, to expand its U.S. footprint via acquisitions.

The big picture: Amid the pandemic, most digital companies that aren't rooted in high-growth areas, like podcasts, newsletters and streaming, have taken a hit.

  • Many firms are now eyeing more consolidation as a means to expand into high-growth areas, or increase their scale.
  • The pandemic-driven push to consolidate via SPACs or private funding follows a wave of big, digital media mergers last year.

What's next: Buyers are eyeing several targets including Vice (which now includes Refinery29), Bustle Digital Group (which is already a roll-up of many different sites like Nylon, Zoe Report, Bustle and others), and The Skimm.

Go deeper: TV companies and streamers are also getting in on the SPAC action.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 12, 2021 - Technology

A tale of two Jacks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Costfoto (Barcroft Media), Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

In China, President Xi Jinping has silenced Alibaba founder Jack Ma and launched an antitrust investigation into his company after the e-commerce tycoon publicly criticized state regulators. In the U.S., Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has suspended President Donald Trump's accounts after the president used the platform to incite violence.

The big picture: The juxtaposition of two almost perfectly inverse situations reveals how differently China and the U.S. have approached the management of tech giants and digital information.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.