The founder-owners of B2B newsletter publisher Industry Dive, of Washington DC, have sold a majority of their company to Falfurrias Capital Partners for a valuation believed to be some $70m.
Founded in 2012, IndustryDive provides news and information to more than 7m executives across 22 daily newsletters in 19 industry verticals ranging from banking and supply chain to retail and waste.
CEO Sean Griffey will continue to lead the company with fellow co-founders Ryan Willumson and Eli Dickinson.
IndustryDive has been soundly profitable for more than five years. In 2018, it made EBITDA of $5.8m on revenue of $22.4m which was 40% up on 2017 and almost five times that in 2015. Profit margins have climbed from 10% to 26% in four short years. The company employs 72 people.
It claims a total of 1.3m “subscribers” (mainly in North America) and a monthly reach via websites and apps of 5m. But the core business is the portfolio of daily emails of each industry’s key headlines, linking to relevant articles from around the web, recommended resources and upcoming industry events.
Industry Dive publishes some 80-90 stories a day, with loads of bullet points and a real emphasis on quick news. It is good journalism in a neat package with no pretence about the standardisation involved: “The products we sell are the same. It’s the Southwest model—buy one type of plane and then everyone knows how to work on it.” Retail Dive currently has the largest revenue but Griffey claims the company’s profitability is fairly evenly spread across its verticals.
While the cashed-up company will target new verticals, paid-for content services and research, it is also known to be interested in events. Given their growth rates and valuations, it would be surprising if the new majority shareholder was not interested in launching exhibitions alongside some of the IndustryDive verticals.
The IndustryDive deal comes just a few weeks after the UK-based (but increasingly transatlantic) Future Plc acquired its rival and near-neighbour SmartBrief for an initial sum of $45m and a 2020 performance payment of up to $20m. The price was 9x EBITDA of $5m in the year ended 31 March 2019, when SmartBrief revenue was $35.1m. Apart from representing a major move into B2B by the specialist consumer-focused Future, it is assumed that the UK company will want to launch a similar newsletter business back home during 2020.