Vox Media, owner of publications including New York Magazine and tech site The Verge, is raising $100 million from Penske Media, the owner of a swath of entertainment and trade publications including Rolling Stone and Variety, according to several people with knowledge of the deal.
As a result of the investment, Penske Media will own about 20 percent of Vox Media, making it the largest shareholder of the company, according to one of the people with knowledge of the terms.
The terms represent a significant discount compared with Vox Media’s last funding round, in 2015, when NBCUniversal invested $200 million in the company at a valuation of about $1 billion. NBCUniversal’s investment in Vox Media came during a boom for digital publishing, when companies like BuzzFeed, Vice Media and HuffPost were raising money at sky-high valuations.
In recent years, valuations for digital media companies have plunged as platforms like Google, Meta and Amazon have taken an ever-larger share of the digital-media market.
In a note to employees, Vox Media’s chief executive, Jim Bankoff, said that the two companies would continue to operate separately, “with editorial and business independence,” adding that the companies would partner where it was beneficial.
The investment, Mr. Bankoff said in his note, “fortifies our ambitions to grow sustainably and pursue opportunities that align with our goals, especially during this time of economic uncertainty.” Jay Penske, the chief executive and co-founder of Penske Media, said in an announcement that he had long admired Vox Media’s “world-class” journalists.
“The Penske Media and Vox Media alliance will further cement both companies as leaders in modern media and take advantage of new opportunities at scale,” Mr. Penske said.
Vox Media owns an array of digital tech, sports and lifestyle publications, including Recode, SB Nation, Eater and Vulture. The company has struck stock deals to acquire other digital media properties in recent years, buying Group Nine Media, a holding company that owned The Dodo animal site; Thrillist, a site for food and travel enthusiasts; and NowThis, a social-first news company.
Like other media companies, Vox Media has been hurt by the recent downturn in the advertising market. Mr. Bankoff announced last month that the company was laying off about 7 percent of its staff, citing the possibility of a “prolonged downturn.”
In addition to raising funds, Vox Media has met with other media companies to discuss potential acquisitions or sales of some of its media properties, according to two other people familiar with the matter. In recent years, the company has sought to reduce its reliance on advertising by developing new lines of revenue including digital subscriptions, and e-commerce.
Vox Media could use the money to make acquisitions to expand its business, one of the people with knowledge of the deal said, adding that the company doesn’t plan to raise additional money.
The Vox Media deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions and investments made by Penske Media. Last month, a subsidiary of the company, Penske Media Eldridge, announced a deal to acquire Dick Clark Productions, the live entertainment production company behind “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve.”
Much of Penske Media’s revenue comes from live events, including LA3C, a Los Angeles-based festival celebrating music, art and food. The company is also an owner of South by Southwest, a festival known for previewing emerging tech companies.