Zirra Spotlight on Mashable

Mashable is a source for digital media with a multitude of stories on technology, business, entertainment, and current events. Mashable delivers content to the “connected” world with an engaged digital network. Currently, Mashable has 45 million unique monthly visitors, over 8 million followers on Twitter, over 4 million followers on Facebook, and the company is averaging 7.5 million shares of its content per month. Mashable, founded in 2005, is based in New York, New York with an additional office in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Singapore, and Sydney.

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Zirra Rated Mashable

Competitive Position: There are many high profile media companies who are focusing their efforts on reporting on technology, business, entertainment, and world events. We have identified several media companies in direct competition with Mashable that are all major players in the digital media industry. Vice Media, founded in 2006 and now with bureaus in over 30 countries, has raised $770M and made four acquisitions since that time. Vice’s investors include The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox. In December 2016 Vice Media Founder & CEO Shane Smith strongly hinted at a potential IPO coming in 2017. BuzzFeed, founded in 2006, has made five acquisitions, two investments into two different companies, and has amassed $496.6M in funding from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, NBC Universal, New Enterprise Associates, and Softbak Capital. BuzzFeed claims they reach over 200 million people, globally, every month and have 1.5 billion monthly video views. The third major player in this area is Vox Media, founded in 2003, has made six acquisitions, and has raised from $324.6M from Accel Partners, Allen & Company, Comcast Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and NBC Universal. In comparison, Mashable has raised $46M and has acquired one company in 2009. Based on these numbers, Mashable is lagging behind these media giants at this point in time. There are more competitors in the space including Elite Daily, Upworthy, and Distractify.

Fundamentals: As of December 18th, 2016, Mashable lists 449 employees on LinkedIn. A report from The Observer said, “Mashable laid off 30 editorial staffers, and made a company-wide pivot towards the video and television business.” Mashable’s employee numbers had been growing every month from December 2014 to April 2016, and have been in decline every month since. It is difficult to estimate why the company laid off many of its workers, but it could be due to the effect of unrealistic growth numbers driven by Facebook, or possibly because the VCs invested in Mashable were unhappy with performance. There are no publicly available indications as to the exact reason why this happened, and the reasons we gave in this key point are only speculation.

Market Forecast & Exit Indicators: PwC predicts the total worldwide entertainment and media revenues will rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% over the coming years to $2.23 trillion in 2019. McKinsey says, ” Digital, consisting of Internet and mobile advertising, will become the largest advertising category by 2017, surpassing TV one year earlier than forecast, and mobile will more than double its share of the digital ad market.” This should make Mashable very happy as they get a lot of their revenue from advertisers paying for space on their site. There were rumors reported by Reuters, and again by The New York Times that Mashable was in talks with CNN to be bought for $200M, but those rumors never materialized into anything.

HR Situation & Reviews: Employee reviews from Glassdoor indicate a lack of approval for the CEO with just a 47% approval rating, and only 2.8 out of 5 rating. On December 15th, 2016, a former employee claimed, “They [also] do not pay well and even though they promoted people after the layoffs many of those promotions were given with no or extremely small pay raises. Believe the bad press that they have been getting recently. This is a terrible place to work.” On October 25th, 2016, a current employee said, “Mashable no longer has an identity which results in it’s employees to be very unmotivated. With that being said, it is a rather depressing yet chaotic work environment. No one is really passionate about what they are doing anymore. Management remains aloof and there is no transparency. The pay is also horrible and everyone is awaiting their next gig.” In July, 2016, a current employee remarked, “Upper management is clueless about what to do with this company. There was a big layoff in April 2016, and as many people have left since then. Morale is down.” It seems as though these reviews are pretty damning and make anybody potentially interested in working at Mashable to give serious pause and concern over what is happening within the walls of the company.

Business & Marketing Strategy: According to LinkedIn, there are 88 individuals within the BD and Marketing departments combined, including the CXO level employees. The Top BD professional in the company is Chief Strategy Officer Adam Ostrow who joined Mashable in 2007 as employee #2 and the Editor-in-Chief. The top two marketing professionals in the company appear to be VP of Experiential Marketing Natasha Mulla and VP Integrated Marketing Sara (Niedz) Kern. Since the company’s pivot towards the video and television business in April, there has been a slight drop-off in traffic to the company’s web site. SimilarWeb shows us that Mashable’s website has a global rank of 844. in April, 2016, Mashable was receiving roughly 75.34 million non-unique visits to their homepage. That number dipped down to 57.52 million in September 2016, and has since bounce back somewhat to 58.05 million for the month of November. We need more time and data to see if the company’s pivot will be successful and result in higher traffic numbers that are comparable to pre-pivot numbers.


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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for Zirra.com.