By Evan DeSimone
The Hearst Corporation has acquired a minority stake in digital media outlet Complex with an initial investment of $21 million, according to a statement released today.
The Complex digital network is a logical choice for Hearst, which has been expanding its presence in the digital media space for some time. In addition to its home site, Complex.com, which offers news and pop culture content in both editorial and video form, Complex operates a range if niche sites focusing on specialized interests from trends in pop culture, entertainment, art and design, fashion and hip hop music to food, technology, sports and video games.
Complex has been active in the video space since 2002, when it began integrating online video into its existing digital content. More recently, the company has adopted a “video first” approach, allowing video content rather than editorial to lead its coverage and engagement in key areas.
The investment was announced jointly by Neeraj Khemlani, Hearst Entertainment and Syndication co-rresident and president of Hearst Digital Studios, and Complex founders Rich Antoniello and Marc Ecko. In a statement, Khemlani summed up Hearsts interest in the Complex brand, stating, “Hearst continues to invest in fast growing digital media and streaming video companies. The Complex Team drives explosive engagement through smart, hip content that features exclusives from some of the top music and popular culture stars of our time.
Khemlani had a chance to witness Complex’s engagement strategy up close earlier this year when the lifestyle publisher partnered with Hearst Digital Studios. Together, the two produced a new original video series called “This Forgotten Day In Hip Hop.”
Hearst has been actively growing its profile in the digital and streaming space for some time now. The publishing giant has a rapidly-expanding portfolio of partnerships in the online media and digital video space. Over the past two years, Hearst has made substantial investments in companies such as AwesomenessTV and Roku, as well as millennial-facing media publishers including BuzzFeed and Vice. The company has also been actively developing its existing properties in the digital space. The company recently launched an OTT platform for its iconic Good Housekeeping magazine brand, created a subscription video service for its CosmoBody imprint and launched a boutique MCN for Seventeen.