$150 Million Thrillist Is Hiring A Banker To Explore An Acquisition Or A Massive Fundraise

Ben Lerer and thrillist employeesBen MuellerBen Lerer

Thrillist, a network of e-commerce shops, newsletters and content for men, is hiring a banker to help it mull over potential acquisition offers or a giant fundraise, Business Insider has learned.

The network, run by media mogul and investor Ben Lerer, was last valued at $US150 million in 2012.

One source familiar with a bank that’s spoken to Thrillist says the company’s growth has slowed and Thrillist is interested in selling itself. This person says acquisition talks have already begun.

A separate source familiar with the company’s thinking doesn’t agree that growth has slowed. Instead, this person says Thrillist has been receiving an “enormous” amount of inbound from potential acquirers (think large magazine companies that could benefit from the e-commerce layer Thrillist has built), which led to hiring a banker. But this person cautioned that Thrillist may not be actively on the block. Instead, Thrillist may be eying a massive new round of financing in the next six to eight months, and a banker could be a trusted advisor to lead it through the process.

How large could Thrillist’s next financing round be? Bankers aren’t typically hired to complete a few-million-dollar transactions. Both Bonobos and BuzzFeed used bankers to help with their ~ $US50 million fundraises, for example. Thrillist raised $US13 million two years ago; the next would be much more capital.

Acquisition talks may have started after impressive revenue numbers for Thrillist were announced in an August issue of Wired. Thrillist is reportedly generating $US100 million in 2014 from its apparel line, Jack Threads, and advertising revenue. Jack Threads makes up the majority of Thrillist’s revenue.

Ben Lerer, CEO and co-founder of Thrillist, confirmed to Business Insider that he’s hiring a banker but says any plans to do a banker-led deal, whether an acquisition or large fundraise, isn’t in the near future. He’s expecting his first child in October and says he doesn’t want the headache of an acquisition or fundraise too.

“Next year, at some point, we are going to go and try to figure out a fundraise that’s larger than I’ve done in my prior experience, and I’m trying to figure out the best approach to make sure I do it right,” Lerer tells Business Insider. “So I’m chatting with people who have a lot of experience to help me, but nothing is imminent at all…
I think you’re barking up a pretty boring tree.”

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