Two weeks ago, the father-son startup team of Ben and Ken Lerer appeared on a panel together for the Paley Center for Media and quibbled over semantics. Thrillist, a business based on an email list, spunky writing and a brand for the urban man, is a media company, young Lerer insisted, and today he made it official. Thrillist, local deals platform Thrillist Rewards and Thrillist-aquiree JackThreads are converging into one glorious man-brand monster: Thrillist Media Group, with a collective audience of four million men.
“We’ve been thinking like this for a few months now and starting to take these ideas out to market,” CEO Ben Lerer told Betabeat today, citing a campaign with McDonalds that spanned the Thrillist and JackThreads platforms. “Internally we’ve all known it’s been happening.”
Thrillist also announced a new president of sales and chief revenue officer, Adam Chandler, formerly of Yahoo and Martini Media, who will oversee sales across the brands. Shane Rahmani, former senior director of strategy and operations at MTV Networks Digital Media Group is joining Thrillist Media Group as the new VP of Business Development and Strategy.
Thrillist acquisition JackThreads, which is focused on apparel, is now bigger than Thrillist, which is focused on food and drink, Mr. Lerer said. But the brands all have basically the same audience so it just made sense to offer advertisers and clients the chance to reach that audience through multiple venues simultaneously.
Still, Thrillist started as a content company and it’s still a media company at heart, Mr. Lerer said. “I like the idea of a media company because for me, a media company cares really desperately, or should at least, that it has a very strong brand and is sort of obsessed with the user experience and obsessed with the emotional connection between the brand and the consumer,” he said. “I feel like if someone thinks about you as just a middleman or a retailer, it affects your business. People are drawn to media companies and the excitement of content creation. There’s something really tangible about it and I feel like retail doesn’t have that same shine.”
So content is more tangible than retail—what a world! We asked Mr. Lerer if there are any advantageous acquisitions in his sights. “Anything we’d want to buy I think would be a brand,” he said. “I wish I had more specifics.”
At least he could say what an acquisition would not be: no tech companies and ideally a brand in a different vertical than fashion or food, ’cause they’ve already got that covered. And no girls. “I would love to do girls stuff,” he said. “You just think about how many hours there are in a day and how much bandwidth we have.” It’s a big market, he acknowledged, but “I just don’t think it’s the lowest hanging fruit.”