Say Media, the publisher of xoJane and ReadWriteWeb, raised more than US$100m and attracted an audience of 35 million people — easily meeting any digital media startup’s definition of success.
In November 2014, that all changed. Say Media announced it would give up on publishing to focus on its technology business. It now bills itself as a media and web advertising firm.
Its audience, the company seemed to say, just wasn’t big enough. The future as they saw it was more secure in trying to unite digital media companies into a system big enough to attract big-dollar marketers.
“Scale matters,” Matt Sanchez, CEO of Say Media, tells Mashable. “I think what you’re seeing with some of these sales or acquisitions is a very similar concept. Scale matters there and I think it is more viable for Re/code to be part of a larger company and a larger portfolio and a larger footprint. I think that’s what’s driving a lot of these deals.”
Digital journalism, in short, can only survive if it garners big numbers: tens of millions of users, hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, and clicks clicks clicks.
Or, as Kara Swisher told the New York Times when Re/code was acquired by Vox: “It’s not a secret that being a smaller fish is really hard.”