Written by Assaf Gilad and Dan Schwarzman
Minute Media (formerly FTBpro and 90Min) announced yesterday a new $15 million financial round. It is the third time the company raises a financial round at about the same size, but this time it adds a growth VC, Qumra Capital, in that case. Minute Media will use the new funds to expand into Japan, Russia, and the Middle East, and add rugby and cricket as additional content verticals. The media company had already partnered with a leading Indian company (HT Media) and is exploring joint ventures in China and Southeast Asia to expand the 90min footprint.
The company does not disclose its valuation to the press, but Zirra, a company that has developed AI and machine learning technology to analyze private companies, estimates Minute Media’s valuation at about $250-$300 million post-money. [Read here for Zirra’s spotlight report on Minute Media]
Minute Media is actually a holding company for the successful soccer content service 90min and the American sports service 12up. The company’s technology allows fans to create, publish and share content such as quizzes, surveys and opinionated articles about their favored sports team with a global audience. 90min features and shares soccer content, while 12up mainly features American sports such as basketball, American football, and baseball.
This ‘contributor-driven’ media has over 4,000 contributors already, and sharing agreements with The Telegraph, The Independent, USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Mirror. The traffic is as high as 70 million visitors per month and has been growing 300% yearly. It’s iPhone app enjoys a stable status and good reviews. Also, the Android version enjoys a sudden surge as shown here (through Apptopia):
In addition, the company maintains a stable employee count. Despite growing significantly in traffic, it didn’t need much of growth in the workforce (as is demonstrated by LinkedIn total employee count graph):
We wanted to highlight several risks points the company, and its surroundings should be aware of:
1.The company is doing well regarding user numbers, page impressions and reach, but the company has not confirmed their revenue numbers. There is no mention of a possible exit in recent press, but there is a chance the company could be bought in a major deal by one of the leading sports content conglomerates for as much as $400-$450 million, although the chances of it are low (20%-30% according to Zirra). After Disney sought to sell ESPN due to massive subscribers lost, M&As in the sports content business might be on hold.
2.90min is no longer alone in the field. The company’s competitors include Copa90 ($10.7M in funding), that pitches itself as the home of global soccer fan culture. Competitor Sporting News, which was acquired by American City Business Journals, is another leading sporting website and magazine. Additional competitor, SB Nation, ($34M in funding) is a network of more than 300 owned-and-operated sports communities, operating under Vox Media.
3.Founding Team: Founder Yuval Larom was previously SVP Engineering, but has since left the company for another company he founded that does not yet have any information publicly available. In addition, it is unclear what position third Co-Founder Gili Beiman holds within the enterprise. The founding team got a rate of 8.3 out of 10 by Zirra’s rating algorithm.
4. Look at that data taken from a SimilarWeb query on 90min’s traffic in 2016 and 2017. Is that decline from 2016 to 2017 seasonal? Was the climax of 2016 related to Rio’s 2016 World Cup? Either usage is seasonal or the app suffers from a decline in user-base – Minute Media will have to tackle the issue.
This data from SimilarWeb should be treated carefully since Comscore shows a different, contradicting pattern of engagement. It is entirely possible that since the biggest surge in traffic is in mobile, Comscore is having a better view of the traffic as a whole. Last January Minute Media’s services grew to more than 70 unique monthly users, up from 27 million per month the same time last year. The audience growth has catapulted Minute Media to be the third largest sports property in the UK and the ninth largest in the US in less than eight months, according to comScore for the month of December. The company is also firmly positioned as a top ten sports property in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam, as per comScore’s reporting.