Jul 30, 2019

The Juggernaut lands new investors

A handful of venture capitalists have participated in the seed round for The Juggernaut, a premium subscription publication for South Asian stories and news, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a series of investments from venture capitalists and Hollywood giants in South Asian storylines and talent.

Driving the news: Precursor Ventures, Kevin Lin (co-founder of Twitch), Bhaskar Ghosh (partner and CTO at 8VC), and Sheel Tyle (founder, Amplo), among others, will join Y Combinator in investing in the startup led by Snigdha Sur.

Details: The company started as a newsletter in October 2017 and launched a $4.99-per-month paid subscription service in February. Sur says 80% of users sign up for an annual plan.

  • Its free newsletter has open rates of about 30-60%, says Sur. (The average rate for publishing is usually around 20%.)
  • Sur says the conversion rate from the free newsletter to the paid subscription has so far been about 6%.

The trend: Media companies in the U.S. are looking to better cover the South Asian population. This year...

  • Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra inked a deal with Universal for a wedding film.
  • Netflix green-lighted a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age comedy series with Kaling starring.
  • HBO is developing "Attachment," a comedy series that centers on a first-generation Indian-American tech CEO.
"The South Asia diaspora is so large. I can't believe this audience doesn't have publication or voice in way they want to to be spoken to covering stories matter to them."
Charles Hudson, managing partner, Precursor Ventures

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Niche media becoming a norm

Niche media outlets are having their moment, with cross-vertical topics experiencing new room for growth.

Where it stands: The Athletic, a digital sports news subscription service, has reached more than 500,000 subscribers and expects nearly 1 million globally by year's end, thanks to heavy investments being made in the U.K.

Go deeperArrowJul 30, 2019

News aggregation app SmartNews reaches $1 billion valuation

Screen shot from SmartNews.com

SmartNews, the Japanese news discovery app that has amassed 20 million global monthly active users, has raised $28 million in its latest funding round, bringing the company's valuation to $1.1 billion, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: It's notable that in today's bleak news market where U.S. tech giants like Google and Facebook dominate most news referral traffic online, a Japanese-based firm has been able to gain traction. SmartNews is one of the few news-related startups to achieve "unicorn" status, or a valuation of over $1 billion, in years.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019

Traditional networks revamp offerings for digital consumption

Illustration: Axios Visuals

As the TV news market rapidly transforms, traditional networks are revamping their offerings, with new channels, features and distribution deals designed for digital consumption.

Driving the news: Altice has launched News 12+, a local equivalent of a headline news channel. The product is basically meant for out-of-home television viewing at bars, restaurants and shops in the New York metropolitan area where the News 12 franchises operate.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019