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Vox Media, Inc. is an American mass media company based in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The company was established in November 2011 by Jim Bankoff and Trei Brundrett to encompass ''SB Nation'' (a sports blog network founded in 2005 by Tyler Bleszinski, Markos Moulitsas, and Jerome Armstrong) and ''The Verge'' (a technology news website launched alongside Vox Media). Bankoff had been the CEO for ''SB Nation'' since 2009. Vox Media owns editorial brands, primarily ''The Verge'', ''Vox'', ''SB Nation'', ''Eater'', ''Polygon'', and ''New York''. ''New York'' further incorporates the websites ''Intelligencer'', ''The Cut'', ''Vulture'', ''The Strategist'', ''Curbed'', and ''Grub Street''. The former ''Recode'' was integrated into ''Vox'', while ''Racked'' was shut down. Vox Media's brands are built on Concert, a marketplace for advertising, and Chorus, its proprietary content management system. The company's lines of business include the publishing platform Chorus, Concert, Vox Creative, Vox Entertainment, Vox Media Studios, and the Vox Media Podcast Network. As of 2020, the company operates additional offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, and London. In June 2010, the network featured over 300 sites with over 400 paid writers. As of April 2021, Comscore ranks Vox Media as the 33rd-most popular media company among users from the United States.

History




Background in sports media


Tyler Bleszinski, a freelance writer, established ''Athletics Nation'' in 2003 as a sports blog that sought to cover the baseball team Oakland Athletics from a fan's perspective. The blog quickly became popular, becoming the second-most popular site on the Blogads network, after Daily Kos. Bleszinski, together with Daily Kos creator Markos Moulitsas and political strategist Jerome Armstrong, then established the sports blog network ''SB Nation'' around ''Atheltics Nation'' in 2005. The popularity of the site led to other sports blogs being incorporated. ''SB Nation'' hired former AOL executive Jim Bankoff as an advisor in 2008 to assist in its growth. He was promoted to chief executive officer (CEO) in January 2009. He showed interest in ''SB Nation''s goal of building a network of niche-oriented sports websites. By February 2009, the ''SB Nation'' network contained 185 blogs, and in November 2010, Comscore estimated that the site had attracted 5.8 million unique visitors. The 208% increase in unique visitors over November 2009 made ''SB Nation'' the fastest-growing sports website the company tracked at the time.


Continued growth and expansion into other content areas


In 2011, Bankoff hired a number of former writers from AOL's technology blog ''Engadget'', including former editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky, to build a new technology-oriented website in the same network as ''SB Nation''. These writers had originally left AOL following a series of conflicts between Topolsky and Michael Arrington, the author of ''TechCrunch'' (which AOL had previously acquired), and the leak of an internal training document that outlined a content strategy for AOL's blogs that prioritized profitability. Bankoff felt that a technology-oriented website would complement ''SB Nation'' due to their overlapping demographics. ''The Verge'' was launched on November 1, 2011, with Topolsky as editor-in-chief. Alongside this launch, Bankoff and Trei Brundrett created Vox Media as the parent company for both ''SB Nation'' and ''The Verge''. The previous parent shell to ''SB Nation'', SportsBlogs, Inc., was converted into Vox Media, Inc. for this purpose. Brundrett, who had been with ''SB Nation'' since 2006, became Vox Media's vice president of products and technology, and later chief product officer. In 2012, Vox Media launched a video gaming website, ''Polygon'', led by former ''Joystiq'' editor Christopher Grant. In November 2013, Vox Media acquired Curbed Network, which consisted of the real-estate blog network ''Curbed'', the food blog ''Eater'', and the fashion blog ''Racked''. In April 2014, the company launched a news website, ''Vox''. Led by former ''Washington Post'' columnist Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Matthew Yglesias, ''Vox'' was positioned as a general interest news service with a focus on providing additional context to recurring subjects within its articles. In May 2015, Vox Media acquired ''Recode'', a technology industry news website that was founded by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the former editors of ''The Wall Street Journal''s ''All Things Digital''. In February 2017, Vox Media promoted Brundrett as its chief operating officer. In May 2017, Vox Media announced that it had entered into an agreement to provide technology and advertising sales for Bill Simmons' sports website ''The Ringer'', as part of a revenue sharing agreement. In February 2018, it was reported that Vox Media would be laying off around 50 employees, particularly surrounding video production. CEO Jim Bankoff stated previously that the company planned to exit native video for Facebook due to "unreliable monetization and promotion". The memo announcing the layoffs argued that despite its success, native video "won't be viable audience or revenue growth drivers for us relative to other investments we are making", and that the company wanted to focus more on podcasting and Vox Entertainment. The layoffs represented around 5% of Vox's workforce. In April 2019, Vox Media acquired magazine ''Epic'', which would become part of a new division called Vox Media Studios, which had also absorbed Vox Entertainment and the Vox Media Podcast Network. In September 2019, Vox Media agreed to acquire and merge with New York Media, the parent company of ''New York'' magazine. The California Assembly Bill 5 was passed in September 2019, and the bill aimed at improving the working conditions for contract workers. In response to this bill, Vox Media announced in December 2019 that it would terminate more than 200 contracts of California-based freelance writers for ''SB Nation'', and replace these writers with 20 full-time staff writers. On April 17, 2020, Vox Media announced it would furlough 9% of its workforce from May 1 to July 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, Lindsay Peoples Wagner was hired to be the new editor-in-chief of ''The Cut''. In February 2021, Swati Sharma—former managing editor of ''The Atlantic—''was hired to be the new editor-in-chief of ''Vox''.


Corporate affairs





Funding


In December 2014, Vox Media raised a round led by the growth equity firm General Atlantic, estimating the media company's value at around . Participants in Vox Media's previous rounds include Accel Partners, Comcast Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Other funders are Allen & Company, Providence Equity Partners, and various angel investors, including Ted Leonsis, Dan Rosensweig, Jeff Weiner, and Brent Jones. According to sources, the Series C in May 2012, valued Vox Media at $140 million. A Series D valued the company north of , raising an additional . In August 2015, NBCUniversal made a equity investment in Vox Media, valuing the company at more than . Comcast, which owns NBC, additionally already owned 14% of Vox through other subsidiaries.


Union


In January 2018, Vox Media agreed to recognize a labor union, the Vox Media Union, which had been formed by its editorial staff with help from the Writers Guild of America, East. On June 6, 2019, more than 300 employees under the Vox Media Union staged a walkout over failed labor agreements between the union and Vox Media, leading to most Vox Media websites without operation. The Vox Media Union negotiated with management during the widespread furloughs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. The union "won a guarantee of no layoffs, no additional furloughs, and no additional pay cuts through July 31, along with enhanced severance for any layoffs that occur in August–December."


Litigation


In September 2017, Vox Media was sued by Cheryl Bradley, a former manager of the "Mile High Hockey" site for ''SB Nation'', which covered the Colorado Avalanche team. The suit alleged that Bradley, despite being an employee of the company working 30–40 hours (and sometimes up to 50 hours) a week, was only paid a stipend per month, wherefore Vox Media had failed to reach obligatory wage and hour protections. Fellow former site managers John Wakefield and Maija Varda were later added to the suit as plaintiffs, and Vox Media unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed. The suit was granted class action status by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in March 2019. A second labor suit was filed as a class action lawsuit in California in September 2018, citing the Fair Labor Standards Act. Because this lawsuit could have covered 258 plaintiffs and damages of up to , Vox Media had the suit moved to the United States federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act. In several cases, plaintiffs represented by the attorney Richard Liebowitz sued Vox Media over copyright infringement claims.


Properties


Vox Media is made up of six large media brands: ''The Verge'' (technology, culture, and science), ''Vox'' (general interest news), ''SB Nation'' (sports), ''Polygon'' (gaming), ''Eater'' (food and nightlife), and ''Curbed'' (real estate and home). It also owns the online publications ''Select All,'' ''The Strategist,'' ''New York Magazine'' (and its affiliated websites), ''Daily Intelligencer'' (up-to-date news), ''The Cut'' (fashion and beauty), ''Grub Street'' (food and restaurants), and ''Vulture'' (pop culture). Vox Media also previously owned or operated the online publications ''Racked'' (retail and shopping) and ''Recode'' (technology news).


''SB Nation''


''SB Nation'' (originally known as ''Sports Blog Nation'') is a sports blogging network, founded by Tyler Bleszinski and Markos Moulitsas in 2005. The blog from which the network formed was started by Bleszinski as Athletics Nation in 2003, and focused solely on the Oakland Athletics. It has since expanded to cover sports franchises on a national scale, including all Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Football League, and National Hockey League teams, as well as college and soccer teams, totaling over 300 community sites. In 2011, the network expanded into technology content with ''The Verge'', leading to the parent company Sports Blogs Inc. being rebranded as Vox Media. Vox Media's chief executive, Jim Bankoff, has served as ''SB Nation'' CEO since 2009. The network expanded into radio programming in mid-2016 with SB Nation Radio, in partnership with Gow Media.


''The Verge''


''The Verge'' is a technology news site, which launched on November 1, 2011; it was originally staffed by former employees of ''Engadget'', including former editor Joshua Topolsky and the new site's editor-in-chief Nilay Patel. While Topolsky and his team were developing the new site, a "placeholder" site called ''This Is My Next'' was created to allow them to continue writing articles and producing podcasts. Topolsky described the site as being an "evolved version of what we adbeen doing t AOL" In February 2014, ''The Verge'' had 7.9 million unique visitors according to ComScore.


''Vox''


''Vox'' was launched in April 2014; it is a news website that employs explanatory journalism. The site's editor-in-chief is Lauren Williams. Vox Media acquired technology industry news website ''Recode'' in May 2015. ''Recode'' hosts the annual invite-only Code Conference, at which editors of the site interview prominent figures of the technology industry. ''Recode'' was integrated into ''Vox'' in May 2019 under the name ''Recode by Vox''.


''Polygon''


The video game website ''Polygon'' launched in 2012 as Vox Media's third property, and publishes news, culture, reviews, and videos. The site's founding staff included the editors-in-chief of the gaming sites ''Joystiq'', ''Kotaku'' (Brian Crecente), and ''The Escapist''. Staff published on ''The Verge'' as "Vox Games" beginning in February 2012, and launched as ''Polygon'' in October. The network features long-form journalism that focuses on the people making and playing the games rather than the games alone, and uses a "direct content sponsorship" model of online advertising. Christopher Grant serves as the current editor.


''Eater''


''Eater'' is a food and dining network of sites, offering reviews and news about the restaurant industry. The network was founded by Lockhart Steele and Ben Leventhal in 2005, and originally focused on dining and nightlife in New York City. ''Eater'' launched a national site in 2009, and covered nearly 20 cities by 2012. Vox Media acquired ''Eater'', along with two others comprising the Curbed Network, in late 2013. In 2017, ''Eater'' had 25 local sites in the United States in Canada, and launched its first international site in London. The site has been recognized four times by the James Beard Foundation Awards. ''Eater'' is led by editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt.


''New York'' magazine


''New York'' is an American biweekly magazine concerned with life, culture, politics, and style generally, and with a particular emphasis on New York City. On September 24, 2019, it was announced that the magazine's parent company, New York Media, was acquired by Vox Media. The magazine's website, NYMag.com, was a companion to the magazine until it was relaunched as a news site in 2006. It further includes several branded sites: * ''Intelligencer'': news * ''The Cut'': women's issues * ''Grub Street'': food and restaurants * ''The Strategist'': internet shopping companion * ''Vulture'': pop culture * ''Curbed'': real-estate. The brand originated as a real-estate and home website that reached beyond New York City to publish in 32 markets across the U.S. It was founded in 2004 as a side project by Lockhart Steele, managing editor of Gawker Media. Vox Media would later acquire ''Curbed''s parent company, Curbed Network, in November 2013 for in cash and stock, accumulating sister brands ''Eater'' and ''Ranked'' as well. In May 2020, Vox Media announced it was merging ''Curbed'' into ''New York'' magazine's website, NYMag.com as a vertical.


Former


Technology industry news website ''Recode'' was acquired by Vox Media in May 2015. The property was then integrated into the company's namesake brand ''Vox'' under the name ''Recode by Vox'' in May 2019.


''Racked''


''Racked'' was a retail and shopping website which covered style. It was acquired by Vox Media when the company acquired Curbed Network in November 2013. In December 2014, the site had 11.2 million page views and 8 million unique visitors. In addition to the national site, ''Racked'' had local sites for Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, and San Francisco. The editor-in-chief was Britt Aboutaleb. ''Racked'' was folded into ''Vox'' in September 2018.


Businesses





Chorus


Conceived in 2008, Chorus was built to be a "next-generation" publishing platform. Developed specifically for SB Nation, it facilitates content creation, and implemented commenting and forums, which allowed for company growth, later evolving to analyze viewership and distribute content via various multimedia platforms. In 2014, Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell left ''The Washington Post'' to join Vox Media, in part because of the publishing platform. Additionally, the founders of Curbed, Eater, and ''The Verge'' said Chorus was a key reason for partnering with Vox Media. In 2018, Vox Media began to license Chorus as a software as a service (SaaS) business to other publishers, including Funny or Die and The Ringer. The ''Chicago Sun-Times'' signed on as the first traditional newspaper to launch on the platform in October 2018.


Concert


In April 2016, Vox Media and NBCUniversal launched Concert as a "premium, brand-friendly ad network" to reach more than 150 million people across their digital properties. New York Media, PopSugar, ''Quartz'' and ''Rolling Stone'' joined the marketplace in May 2018. In May 2018, Comscore estimated the network reaches almost 90 percent of all internet users. With the new partners, Concert launched C-Suite to reach executives among brands such as CNBC, ''Recode'', ''The Verge'', and ''Vox''.


Vox Creative


Vox Creative is Vox Media's branded entertainment business. In October 2017, Vox Creative expanded to launch The Explainer Studio to bring the explainer format to brand partners. In 2016, Vox Creative's ad for "Applebee's Taste Test" won the Digiday Video Award for Best Video Ad.


Vox Media Studios


In April 2019, Vox Media opened an operation unit known as Vox Media Studios. It is run by company president Marty Moe and serves as an umbrella for the Vox Entertainment, Vox Media Podcast, and simultaneously acquired ''Epic'' units. Vox Media Studios soon announced a new show, ''Retro Tech'', hosted by Marques Brownlee on YouTube.


Vox Entertainment


In March 2015, Vox Media formed a new division known as Vox Entertainment. The division was created to expand the company's presence in developing online video programming. Vox Entertainment announced new shows in 2018, including ''American Style'' on CNN, ''Explained'' on Netflix, ''No Passport Required'' (hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson) on PBS, and another named "Glad You Asked" series on YouTube. Vox Entertainment is helmed by Vox Media president Marty Moe. In 2016, vice president of Vox Entertainment, Chad Mumm, was named to the ''Forbes'' 30 Under 30 and ''Variety'' "30 Execs to Watch" list.


Vox Media Podcast Network


The Vox Media Podcast Network is Vox Media's non-fiction audio programming business and has a broad portfolio of audio programming across business, technology, news and policy, sports, and dining. Shows include: Recode ''Recode Decode'', hosted by Kara Swisher, ''Recode Media with Peter Kafka'' and ''Recode Daily''; The Verge ''The Vergecast''; and Vox ''The Weeds'', ''Vox Conversations'', ''Today, Explained'', ''Switched on Pop'', ''Impeachment, Explained'', ''Unexplainable'' and ''Vox Quick Hits''.


Forte


In December 2019, Vox Media announced a first-party marketing platform named Forte, in order to offer marketers access to Vox Media's direct-to-consumer relationships.


Reception


In 2016, business magazine ''Inc.'' nominated Vox Media for "Company of the Year", citing that the company generated approximately in revenue in 2015, and was attracting 170 million unique users and 800 million content views monthly by 2016. Vox Media was named one of the world's "most innovative" media companies in 2017 by ''Fast Company'' for "doubling down on quality content while expanding". Vox Media was also named one of the "50 Great Places to Work" in Washington, D.C., by magazine ''Washingtonian''. The company gained a rating of 95 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which rates businesses on their treatment of LGBT personnel.

See also

* Buzzfeed *Mashable

References



External links

* {{Major Internet companies Category:Digital mass media companies Category:American companies established in 2005 Category:Internet properties established in 2005 Category:Mass media companies established in 2005 Category:Mass media companies of the United States Category:Online content distribution Category:Privately held companies based in Washington, D.C. Category:Podcasting companies