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​Hearst acquires minority stake in Complex with a $21m strategic investment

Hearst announced (Sept 22) that it has invested US$21m to acquire a minority stake in Complex, one of the fastest growing digital media networks.

Now reaching over 57m diverse millennial males monthly across its destination and partner sites, Complex is also generating some of the strongest engagement metrics amongst the leading digital video and content brands in the market. Complex is now one of the top 10 publishers in the US when it comes to social interaction and engagement on channels like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Complex currently operates a network of sites in addition to its own destination site (Complex.com) that focus on niche cultures and report on trends in pop culture, entertainment, fashion, hip-hop music, art and design, food, technology, sports and video games.

The joint announcement was made by Hearst Entertainment & Syndication Co-President and Hearst Digital Studios President Neeraj Khemlani, Complex Founder and CEO Rich Antoniello and Complex Founder Marc Ecko.

“Hearst continues to invest in fast growing digital media and streaming video companies,” Khemlani said. “The Complex team drives explosive engagement through smart, hip content that features exclusives from some of the top music and popular culture stars of our time.”

“This is an important investment for us and one we view as a crucial strategic play. As we look towards further expansion in digital and linear entertainment, Complex will have access to the extensive expertise, scale and partnerships that only a global media company like Hearst could offer,” Antoniello said. “And with Hearst, we’re poised to become the publisher that influences culture and spurs conversation among an audience that’s as influential as it is broad.”

Since Ecko Unltd. designer and entrepreneur Marc Ecko launched the print publication in 2002, Complex has expanded its business in digital, video, branded activations and emerging platforms. The company has seen a profit since 2010, as it has also excelled in providing a targeted and attractive demographic for advertisers. Over the last two years, Complex has adopted a video-first approach, seeing audience spike to 192m monthly views, a 415 per cent growth year over year. Earlier in 2015, acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee joined Complex as Board Advisor, Branded Video Projects to develop formats that could bridge both digital and linear media.

“For more than a decade, our work has been at the heart of pop culture,” Ecko said. “We’re the most dynamic platform for discovery and inspiration for the most complex generation yet––made up of diverse thinkers, who are as creative as they are powerful in shaping what's next. For us and for them, it is a psychographic approach, connecting our collective passions in 3-D. We don't believe identifying any group by the ‘buzzword’ of the day is a sufficient way to capture anyone’s imagination, and certainly not our audience. We really are ‘Complex.’ It is that steadfast belief in our mission and perspective that has set us far apart from the herd. Complex has made its own lane.”

Source: Hearst Corporation

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