In August, I wrote a post that encouraged publishers looking to test new approaches to "start with an audience, focus deeply on its needs and keep the established entity at bay". One of the examples I used was Refinery29, a retailer that had grown its own content-driven online presence.
Writing about Refinery29, I observed that a "first-time visitor could easily mistake the web presence for a lifestyle media site." Apparently, investors think so too.
Last month, the retailer announced that it had secured $20 million in additional financing to expand its content focus. An article by Erin Griffith of PandoDaily (now just Pando) notes that this is just one of several content-related deals:
The decision to double down on content is a sign of the times. Refinery29′s fundraise follows an even bigger raise from its fellow NYC media startup, Vox Media. The parent of The Verge and SB Nation closed on $36 million of a $40 million round, bringing its total funds raised to an eye-popping $80 million. BuzzFeed has turned profitable after raising $46.3 million. Business Insider raised $18.6 million. Vice Media is worth $1.4 billion.
Agreed, Refinery29 is a vertical and Buzzfeed is not journalism. But there is funding for content-related ventures. Established publishers should be thinking about "doubling down" on content plays of their own. I should, too.
Edited on November 27 to add: On Twitter, Peter Collingridge fairly noted that "Buzzfeed does some good journalism". I clarified on Twitter that "the aside isn't an indictment; more a call to think about journalism as a still unfilled niche". I struggle with the list-driven approach that dominates Buzzfeed, but its success is evident.