Her Campus, the Boston-based online magazine targeted at female college students, this week acquired Spoon University, the Gen Z-focused website that has been described as “The Food Network for millennials”. The cash price has not been undisclosed.
Spoon, which enables users to share recipes, health and lifestyle stories, restaurant reviews and BuzzFeed-esque quizzes, was founded at Northwestern University in 2013 by Sarah Adler and Mackenzie Barth and now claims 2.7m Facebook followers, 370K on Instagram, and chapters at over 200 campuses worldwide.
In 2017, it was acquired for an estimated $10m by Scripps Networks which said it hoped to use it to build younger audiences for its flagship channel The Food Network. Scripps was bought by Discovery Communications in 2018.
Powered by the brand’s proprietary tech platform, the website’s content is provided by college contributors who sign up to receive education, training, and skill-building in editorial, social media, photography, and other domains. Spoon University also operates an annual Brainfood conference, publishes the book “How to Feed Yourself” (Penguin Random House, 2018), and has partnered with major food brands on digital, experiential, influencer, and events media. The site which is believed to have revenue of almost $5m is expected to be profitable under the ownership of Her Campus Media (HCM).
The deal marks HCM third acquisition this year, following College Fashionista (acquired in August 2019), InfluenceHer Collective, and Her20s (May 2019).
HCM claims to be the largest media company for US college women and 360-degree college marketing agency, reaching over 35m users monthly. It operates the largest on-campus chapter network, proprietary experiential programs College Fashion Week and Her Conference, tastemaker community Campus Trendsetters, and the book “The Her Campus Guide to College Life”.
HCM, which was founded in 2010, is believed to have revenue of some $15-20m. Although it has campus chapters in nine countries across Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia, its advertisers are primarily US-based or US-targeting.
The cash-generative company is still 100% owned and managed by its founders, former Harvard University students Stephanie Lewis, Windsor Western and Annie Wang. They employ some 60 people.
It is assumed HCM will eventually seek to boost its international presence – and revenues. It is assumed that HCM will either accept external investment to enable it to grow its international operations or form licensing or joint venture arrangements, especially with companies in Europe, South East Asia, and South America.
Meanwhile, the brilliant Her Campus Media is a reminder that substantial (and profitable) B2C digital media can be created with little or no external funding.