Investing in the Digital Media Revolution
July 19th, 2012 | By Ravi Viswanathan, Paul Hsiao and Alex Scherbakovsky
Today SAY Media, the leading vertical media channel and publishing platform, announced that it has raised a $27 million round of financing led by NEA. Already a major force in the rapidly transforming digital media space, SAY currently reaches 400 million people around the world through its media services and technology platforms and has over 400 employees in four countries. With this new round of funding SAY will continue its rapid growth and global expansion, fueling a publishing evolution that represents a $60 billion opportunity as brands shift ad dollars from print, cable and TV to digital.
Digital media has been an expanding area of investment focus for NEA, particularly where it intersects with the fundamental shift that is occurring in the publishing and advertising industries. Consumers are using media in formats spanning text, pictures and video, and doing so across multiple devices. Twitter and even Facebook have emerged as important news sources, and digital media is a core component of any news organization today. But only very recently are we beginning to see digital incarnations of other analog fixtures like magazines and cable channels. Simply put, it wasn’t really possible before – ample bandwidth, real-time streaming, interactive capabilities, and other key enablers just weren’t there yet. Yet one by one, these technology hurdles have been overcome – and while the precise nature of the impact to traditional publishing models is still in question, the enormity of the impact is not.
SAY Media has already established itself as a key player in that transformation, enabling tastemakers and celebrities to harness the potential of these new technologies and build passionate communities around key consumer interest areas like Style, Living, Food and Tech, while also connecting with leading brands that share their enthusiasm for the subject. Channel (or vertical) content distribution is an important theme we’re exploring as we build our digital media portfolio, and we think SAY’s focus on quality and depth of content will drive a highly engaged user base that will be valuable to marketers, advertisers, consumers and publishers. The underlying technology plays a pivotal role in this – SAY’s unique digital publishing and advertising technology platform allows experienced and aspiring editors to efficiently create great content, reach audiences via all three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet), and foster passionate communities around a variety of verticals. And, significantly, CMOs and brand marketers are already leveraging that same technology to interact with their customers and key influencers through those channels.
We often say that we invest in people as much as a technology or business – and often more. Our investment in SAY is no exception. Matt Sanchez and the leadership team have grown the business aggressively and with outstanding results during the last year. The recent addition of Kim Kelleher as President adds Madison Avenue expertise to the company’s Silicon Valley roots – she previously served as Worldwide Publisher for Time and last year was voted by AdAge as Publisher of the Year. Other recent additions to SAY’s senior management team include Martha Stewart’s former head of sales Christina Cranley as VP of Sales for the Eastern U.S. and CBS’s Sam Parker as Chief Operating Officer.
SAY Media is the latest addition to NEA’s growing digital media portfolio. We are excited to work with Matt and his team as they build a next-generation media platform that can revolutionize the way we connect with content, communities and brands online.