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How Food52 grew a food blog to 16 million readers and $100 million

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  • In September 2019, Food52 sold its majority stake to TCG Capital for $83 million. Valued at more than $100 million, the company plans on opening a brick-and-mortar store for their branded products in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The media and ecommerce business stands out with its terrific content, effective community engagement, and ability to monetize both, according to Mike Kerns, cofounder and partner at TCG Capital.
  • As a company that “never had a lot of funding … any aggressive expansion we’ve had was the result of proving out a concept and expanding organically,” said Amanda Hesser, cofounder of Food52. So for the last 10 years, she and her cofounder Merrill Stubbs gradually adapted their business and content strategy. 
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In a competitive marketplace that sees more than 500 million blogs and 12 to 24 million ecommerce sites worldwide, Food52 stands out with its terrific content, effective community engagement, and ability to monetize both, according to Mike Kerns, cofounder and partner at TCG Capital.

Mike Kerns

Mike Kerns.
Mike Kerns


Founded by former New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs in 2009, the site initially focused on weekly recipe contests that would generate content for several cookbooks. 

Ten years and 16 million followers later, the blog has become a company valued at more than $100 million — having generated approximately $30 million in revenue in 2018 and sold for $83 million in majority stake to TCG Capital in September. In a relatively short time, Hesser and Stubbs built a brand valued on par with New York Magazine, which was acquired by Vox Media at a $105 million valuation.

Turning a blog into a lucrative business involved a measured approach from Hesser and Stubbs. Since the company “never had a lot of funding,” Hesser said,  “any aggressive expansion we’ve had was the result of proving out a concept and expanding organically.”

The story of Food52 began 10 years ago when the cofounders funded the site with an advance from a multi-cookbook deal. Before its launch, they collected email addresses through a splash page for the beta site. Thousands signed up, so Hesser and Stubbs knew they had generated some buzz. 

As readership grew, here’s how they tweaked their business and content strategy.

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