For that reason, Group Nine Media will devote the funding toward attracting big brands and expanding its sales team and combined branded content studio.
The publications will remain independent but can learn from one another. Lerer highlighted Seeker’s prowess on YouTube, where its creators have built massive audiences, as one area he wants the other brands to improve.
The deal resembles NBC Universal’s investments in Vox and BuzzFeed, Disney’s involvement in Vice, Turner and Scripps Networks Interactive’s stake in Refinery29 and Univision’s purchase of Gawker and Fusion.
Deals like Discovery and Group Nine offer a “win-win solution” for both the digital-first media companies and the established media companies, which explains their popularity, said Forrester analyst Susan Bidel.
Established media companies “expand their reach into digital-first audiences to reinforce their relevance,” Bidel said. And they learn from the digital properties while monetizing them.
Smaller digital-first companies “benefit from the economies of scale and the relationships with big marketers that the larger companies offer,” she added.
Discovery Communications has made other investments in digital media leading up the deal.
It launched Seeker earlier this year and had invested in The Dodo. Seeker includes SourceFed Studios, a production studio with 10 million subscribers. Thrillist’s Lerer had also invested in The Dodo and NowThis as managing director of Lerer Hippeau Ventures.
Discovery Communications has the option of purchasing a future controlling stake in Group Nine Media. Axel Springer holds the second-largest stake in Group Nine Media.