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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

Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

The podcast business is booming, but few are making money

Data: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Nearly every major media and entertainment company is pouring lots of cash into launching new podcasts. But many of them aren't making big money — at least not yet.

Why it matters: As is the case with most new technologies, when it comes to podcasts, consumer adoption has outpaced monetization.

Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Audio messaging platform Yac raises $7.5M Series A

Yac

Yac, an online voice messaging platform, has raised $7.5 million in venture funding led by GGV Capital and the Slack Fund, which funded the app last year.

Why it matters: Yac helps companies integrate audio messaging into their workflow. It launched at the beginning of the pandemic and has benefitted enormously from companies needed improved communication during remote work.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.