Just last year, digital-media company Mashable was valued at $250 million during a round of fundraising, a sharp contrast to the $50 million it was sold to Ziff Davis for earlier this month.
In leaked documents received by Business Insider, Mashable’s sharp decline is illustrated by a series of missteps shared with an unpredictable media environment.
A shareholder agreement showed that Mashable was hoping to raise $50 million this year. As of September, the company had raised $43 million in sales.
With the duopoly of Facebook and Google collecting every last scrap of advertising revenue in the digital media sphere, many companies are scrambling for new ways to diversify revenue streams. The documents show Mashable was behind its competitors in this category.
While Gizmodo Media Group anticipated it would make up one-third of its revenue through e-commerce, Mashable’s e-commerce revenue accounted for just 2% of the company’s total intake over the last three months, coming to around $163,000.
Plus, the online site's event revenue came in at 7% and licensing another 3%. Other digital media publishers anticipate making up 20% of their revenue through events next year.
Astonishingly, digital advertising made up 72% of Mashable’s revenue stream in the three months leading up to its sale. The company, in turn, was left vulnerable at a time when many outlets anticipate disaster on the horizon in terms of digital ad revenue.
2017 has been something of a cautionary tale for digital media. The “pivot to video” craze was ultimately more of a fizzle, and the outlets showing the most stability were those able to diversify their revenue streams. But in the case of publishing and media powerhouse Conde Nast, even that proved untenable.
The next year will continue to be rocky for digital media as companies vie for revenue dollars and look to lock in a loyal readership with new products and heightened engagement.