The deal that created Ben Lerer's new media empire, Group Nine, totaled $585 million

Group Nine Media, the holding company that tied together four media brands in October — Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, and Seeker — was created in a deal totaling $US585 million, according to a new SEC filing on Tuesday.

The filing also lists $US14 million to be “used for payments to any of the persons required to be named as executive officers, directors or promoters.”

That $US585 million includes the $US100 million investment from Discovery Communications, disclosed at the time. (Seeker, Discovery’s digital network, was one of the Group Nine brands.)

The deal reflects the increasing stakes in the maturing online media market, putting Group Nine in a class of well-capitalised publishers including The Huffington Post, Refinery29, Vice, BuzzFeed, and Vox. These companies have secured huge investments from traditional media giants, or been absorbed by them.

The thinking

According to Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer, the idea behind the combination was simple: consolidation worked in the TV business, and it would work again in the digital video market.

“Brands and agencies want fewer points of contact,” Lerer told Business Insider in March. “The idea that you can talk to one company and just do more is something that really works. It worked in the TV business.”

The ideal outcome for all the Group Nine companies, according to Lerer, is creating a 360-degree product that spans both the world of social media and the world of TV. Accomplishing that, he said, will be much easier with the business sides of the brands merged.

The Lerer family

A big part of the creation of Group Nine came down to Lerer’s family, he told Business Insider in October. Ben’s father Ken, who cofounded NowThis, has been instrumental in many New York digital media companies including The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and even Business Insider, where he was an investor and board member until the sale to Axel Springer. Ben’s sister Izzie founded The Dodo.

The family element “made [the deal] possible,” Ben Lerer told us in October. “There was 1,000% transparency … No posturing or staredowns.” There was trust, and a frank discussion of whether the move would be best for Thrillist, NowThis, and The Dodo.

Now, it turns out, that deal was worth $US585 million.

Business Insider parent company Axel Springer is an investor in Group Nine Media.

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