MEDIA COMPANY BUYS BLOG NETWORK

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Vox Media, a company with three strong digital brands, including the technology site The Verge, is adding to its portfolio. The company plans to announce Monday that it is buying Curbed.com LLC, which runs three web publications that deliver in-depth neighborhood coverage, with attitude, of real estate, dining and retailing.

Both companies are privately held and Vox did not disclose the purchase price; however, a person with knowledge of the deal said it sold for a mix of stock and cash for $20 million to $30 million.

The purchase comes just as Vox has raised $34 million in new investment capital. Silicon Valley firms have been wary of big investments in digital media companies that focus on content, but Vox has joined BuzzFeed as a notable exception to this rule.

In an interview by phone, Jim Bankoff, Vox’s chief executive, said that the time was right for expansion and that the Curbed brands were a smart addition.

“Both Vox and Curbed value storytelling and as a result have attracted the otherwise hard to reach young, affluent, social consumers,” Bankoff said.

Vox has earned a reputation for high-quality content, producing sleekly photographed articles that integrate multimedia in a smooth and sophisticated manner. The company, based in Washington, attracts 41 million unique users from the United States each month, according to Quantcast, which specializes in digital audience measurement.

In addition to The Verge, Vox runs Polygon, a game site, and SBNation, a network of 300 sports sites that mix reporting and analysis with lots of fan interaction.

The Curbed sites are also good-looking, but have a much smaller readership, according to Quantcast, with about 5.1 million unique monthly domestic viewers. However, Curbed, which started in New York, has been expanding rapidly to include neighborhood coverage of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In addition to a site of the same name that covers real estate, Curbed.com LLC runs Eater, which covers restaurants, and Racked, which covers retailing. Lockhart Steele, who founded Curbed, will stay on and work out of Vox’s offices in New York. When the merger is complete, Bankoff said, Vox will have roughly 140 people in journalism and video positions.