Times Boom

Nearly fifty million more dollars has been administered to Vox Media — publisher of websites, producer of content — bringing its total raise up to about one hundred ten million, and its valuation to about three-eighty. BuzzFeed has raised a similar amount of money but is valued at more than twice as much. Why? “For one, geniuses, it has half BF’s revenues,” says Rafat Ali, who is oversimplifying a little bit: BuzzFeed’s video operation, which is EXTREMELY interesting to investors, is already much, much larger than Vox’s and has clear potential, ad-wise. But Ali does have a point: These investments — and the huge investments in Vice — are neither mysterious nor confusing. They are bets that companies with advertising revenue will be able to produce more advertising revenue, or that maybe they will be purchased by companies with even more advertising revenue. Their editorial pitches might be different but their investment pitches are the same: They are, effectively, ad agencies for Facebook or for YouTube or for Twitter or for Pinterest or for whatever new thing comes along. None depend on BLOWING UP or HOCKEY STICK GROWTH or winning the startup user lottery — that is to say, all of them can succeed at once, for similar reasons. They are different plays on the same prospects; they are bets — some with better odds than others — that these prospects will continue to yield long enough to cash out (an impending cash-out, or an acquisition tour, would certainly explain Vox’s raise!). That is their promise and that is their risk. What makes them interesting — all together — is how completely that risk is out of their control. In conclusion: invest in salad?