Thrillist Is Blowing The Doors Off

Ben Lerer, Founder of Thrillist

E-mail newsletter-for-dudes Thrillist is having a fantastic year.

The company launched its newsletter in Austin, Tex. this week — the first U.S. market it has launched in that DailyCandy had never been in — and is putting up impressive numbers. (Thrillist highlights local food, drink, and shopping highlights — tailored to guys in their 20s and 30s — in a daily newsletter.)

Founder and CEO Ben Lerer tells us that Thrillist has more than doubled its revenue this year, approaching $10 million. That’s at the high end of the $5 million to $10 million range he gave us earlier this year. Lerer expects similar growth next year.

Membership is up more than 100% to 1.3 million, and staff is up to 45 full-time.

E-mail is sexy.

UPDATE: Readers point us to a story that Comcast’s DailyCandy — the company that inspired similar newsletters like Thrillist — is moving its business in a different direction. Specifically, it’s getting rid of local editions for seven of its 12 cities, according to an internal memo obtained by Gawker.

In the email, SVP and General Manager Beth Ellard says that DailyCandy is “dealing with hard realities in our business,” that 2009 has been a “very challenging year,” and that the company is “operating under substantial resource constraints.”

Why is Thrillist adding cities while DailyCandy deletes them? CEO Ben Lerer responds…

The important thing to consider is that DailyCandy didn’t shut down because they are in financial trouble. They are still a cash cow like they’ve always been. There’s no evidence that we’re doing “so much better” or even better at all. Everything i see and hear leads me to believe that DC is still killing it. My guess is that either:

a) Comcast made them reduce force by some percentage (something big media companies have been known to do) and they all talked themselves into thinking that smaller markets that have slightly worse margins were the easiest place to cut. (Which is a mistake, in my opinion.)
b) They think they have found some incredible places to invest funds that will be an even better businesses than the already great business they have. (I’m hoping this is the case so we can watch and learn.)
c) The new management has forgotten dailycandy’s DNA as a local resource and they’ve gotten too caught up with being a lifestyle brand. (I really hope this isn’t the case because I love DailyCandy and have a deep respect for what they’ve built.)

That being said, our success isn’t tied to theirs. We’re creating great content, reaching a ton of people in a different niche and we’re delivering results for our advertisers. If DailyCandy heads in a different direction, it has absolutely no negative barring on our business — if anything, we’ve just become the most influential email in 7 markets that we’d previously been the second largest in.

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