Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate 21st Century Fox has invested $6.5 million in digital start-up DriveTribe, a site devoted to car culture co-created by former “Top Gear” stars Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May; their producer Andy Wilman; and tech entrepreneur Ernesto Schmitt.
Fox’s investment comes on top of the $5.5 million that DriveTribe raised a mere two weeks ago.
Clarkson was dismissed from the BBC’s “Top Gear” in 2015 after punching a producer in the face, with May and Hammond following voluntarily shortly thereafter.
We knew there was life after “Top Gear” for Clarkson, May and Hammond when Amazon ordered a series from the three — “The Grand Tour,” which will debut this fall on Amazon’s streaming service. But DriveTribe is a more intensive, long-term project.
The site will be like a cross between a social media network and an upscale YouTube for gearheads, with enthusiasts sorting themselves into various “tribes” — similar to YouTube channels — headed up by Clarkson, May and Hammond. Other vloggers, chosen by the founders, will get opportunities to head up tribes of their own.
“Some of the world’s most endangered tribes — Volvo enthusiasts, for example — will now have a voice as loud as everyone else’s,” May quipped on the DriveTribe site.
Fox knows that there’s big money in car culture. Automakers are some of the biggest ad spenders around: In 2016, U.S. car companies will shell out $8.71 billion on digital advertising, according to eMarketer, a total that will balloon to $14.14 billion in 2020. So creating a digital entity that pledges to serve as a home for people who are already inclined to spend on cars is plain smart business.