Commentary

Tracking The Busy Media M&A Market

I’ve always believed that media-industry M&A is a sign of an industry’s health. When M&A activity is robust, it means seller are getting the prices they want, and buyers are willing to spend money to invest in a business. (Consolidation at fire-sale prices based on desperation is an obvious exception.)

So it’s been interesting to watch aggressively acquisitive media companies in action these days. B2B publisher Endeavor Business Media is on a roll, having made two acquisitions last week for a total of eight in 2022. The company, based in Nashville, Tennessee, formed in 2017 and has been buying media businesses with regularity since.

Then there’s GovExec, the Washington, D.C.-based digital media company that covers the government sector. That company has made 12 acquisitions since March 2020, when the PE firm Growth Catalyst Partners acquired a controlling interest. Most of the acquisitions have come in the last 13 months.

And Future Publishing hasn’t been a laggard either, not by a long shot. Last year the company acquired the license to publish MarieClaire.com, the TV and film destination Cinemablend, and ten brands from Dennis Publishing, all of which extended its foothold in the U.S. Over the last five years, Future has acquired businesses and brands worth $1.7 billion and built a business worth almost $5 billion.

The Bath, U.K.-based Future announced its latest deal on Tuesday, with the news that it has acquired Who What Wear, a 16-year-old digital women’s fashion, commerce and lifestyle brand based in New York.

“At Future, we’ve built a strong stable of women’s lifestyle brands that connect with audiences across the globe around fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne said. “We’re thrilled to drive this further with Who What Wear."

For more than a decade, Future said in a press release, Who What Wear has been changing the way women feel about fashion and beauty, championing greater inclusiveness and accessibility.

Both Who What Wear and Future, the press release continued, place proprietary technology and data at the core of their businesses. Understanding the search terms, social trends, and purchasing habits of audiences provides advertisers with vital information on how to engage fashion and beauty audiences.

In March, Future acquired two social media businesses: WhatCulture, a social-first brand focused on the gaming and entertainment market, and the data-insights start-up Waive, which uses machine learning to identify social trends.

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