In Axios-speak, this would definitely qualify as 1 big thing.
On Monday, the upstart publisher of punchy, aggressively condensed, bullet-point-laden news stories, announced it agreed to sell itself to Atlanta-based media conglomerate Cox Enterprises. The deal, first reported by The New York Times, will value the digital media enterprise at $525 million.
Does it Matter?
Launched in 2016 by a trio of former leaders at Politico, Axios reported with an emphasis on scoops in politics, media, and tech. It’s grown considerably since, landing a high-profile TV interview with former President Donald Trump and expanding its short, simple, well-organized tendrils into the world of local news in 2020.
But the key detail, in the parlance of the site, is in its valuation and revenue — Axios is projected to generate more than $100 million in revenue this year, according to NYT reporting. That places its valuation at just over 5x yearly revenue. Under Cox, a recent lead investor, the enterprise will continue to expand:
- Axios Local, which aims to provide watchdog journalism in cities with fewer and fewer reliable news sources, is already in 24 markets, with plans to expand to another six by the end of the year. Eventually, Axios says it aims to operate in hundreds of cities.
- Cox, which owns the third-largest US cable company, a bevy of media outlets (including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and a portfolio of automotive businesses, says expanding into local markets will remain a key initiative and is including an additional new investment of $25 million to expand Axios’ newsrooms.
Farewell, HQ: Axios HQ, the company’s software unit that aims to help corporate types write emails and memos in the signature Axios bullet-point style, is being spun off into an independent firm. It currently serves over 300 clients.
The Small Picture: The Axios sale marks the third time this year a media company has sold well above its revenue levels. Industry Dive, a business-focused publication, agreed to a $525 million sale to UK publishing giant Informa in July, at a valuation also around 5x its latest annual revenue. The Athletic, which covers local sports and once flirted with an Axios merger, sold to NYT in January in a deal valued around $550 million after generating just $65 million in revenue in 2021. The news industry may be dying, but apparently no one has told the news.