Dear Media Raises $8 Million for the 'Future of Audio & Commerce'
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
West Hollywood-based Dear Media announced Thursday that it raised $8 million from Magnet Companies, a private equity-backed holding company with offices in New York and Los Angeles.
Dear Media is a podcast network focusing on female voices, with a roster of over 40 hosts including lifestyle guru Lauryn Evarts of "The Skinny Confidential," Jackie Schimmel of "The Bitch Bible," and wellness and nutrition experts Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones. The network, whose podcasts can be heard on typical channels like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, targets an audience of mostly millennial and Gen-Z women who want to engage with podcast hosts across multiple channels, chief executive Michael Bosstick told dot.LA.
"We look at this space as needing a serious update," Bosstick said.
The firm's "360 degree business model" provides hosts with production support from idea generation to distribution, and works across a host's portfolio of multi-platform media outlets for promotion. In this way Dear Media aims to usher in what it calls the "future of audio and commerce."
"We view a lot of talent on this network as not just shows but brands themselves," explained Bosstick.
Dear Media is a West Hollywood podcast network focusing on female voices.
For advertisers this means that working with Dear Media enables them to reach consumers not just through podcasts, but also other touch-points that hosts have with their fans, such as online video, social media and blogs. Coordinating such a marketing approach in turn means Dear Media offers its talent a "unique monetization model that allows creators to make more in a much smarter way," Magnet Companies co-founder Jeff Berman described in a statement.
Bosstick told dot.LA that Dear Media is also interested in investing in companies, whether they be complementary bolt-ons or those that its roster of talent wants to pursue. In this sense he sees Dear Media as an "incubator" rather than a mere media company.
Dear Media's shows have exceeded 150 million downloads and its hosts' collective reach extends across 25 million social media followers, according to the company. And the firm believes its roster is destined to grow, thanks in no small part to co-founder Raina Penchansky's connection to United Talent Agency, which acquired her influencer marketing company, DBA, in 2019.
"(Dear Media) will have ample opportunities to work with an industry-wide roster that includes unique access to talent cross-collaborations within UTA and DBA's collective reach," the fundraising announcement said.
The funds will reportedly be used to grow Dear Media's content slate, fund investments, and expand its internal team to bring on more advertisers. Bossttick noted that the podcast space has been "limiting" to some brands, and he wants to leverage his company's approach to help overcome those limits and bring in new entrants.
Bosstick started the company with Penchansky in 2018 after having spun up a podcast of his own, with his wife, and noticing the shortcomings of what he described as a narrow approach.
"We joined a prominent network and the experience was limiting, because they'd only focus on a subset of the brand," he said. "So we said let's go back to self-producing and build it how we wanted it to be done." This experience has proven beneficial in multiple ways, Bosstick said. It has allowed him to relate to the many pain-points that podcasters face, and has served as an on-ramp for several Dear Media hosts, who originally were guests on his show.
The fundraise comes at a promising time for podcasts in general and particularly in Los Angeles. Spotify has reportedly spent over half a billion dollars on podcast acquisitions since the start of 2019, and representatives from the company have told dot.LA that Los Angeles is the "center of gravity" for its podcast strategy.
Dear Media's numerous L.A.-based podcast company counterparts include Wondery, Neon Hum, and Crooked Media.
Bosstick is bullish on the space.
"I think you'll see a lot of new brands and money moving in," he said. "It's an exciting time for podcasting."
Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.
On this week's episode of Office Hours, you'll hear from Gregg Renfrew, serial entrepreneur and founder of clean beauty company, Beauty Counter. She also serves on the board of directors of Supernova, my special purpose acquisition company.
Los Angeles is home to thousands of founders working day and often night to create a startup that's the next breakout hit.
Who are the most impressive L.A. founders? To find out, we asked our cohort of dozens of L.A.'s to VCs top weigh in.
Andrew Peterson<p>Andrew Peterson is the co-founder and former chief executive of Signal Sciences, a web application security platform that he founded in 2014 and <a href="https://dot.la/signal-science-snapped-up-for-775m-in-big-l-a-saas-exit-2647256430.html" target="_self">was acquired in 2020 by Fastly in a $775 million deal</a>. Signal Sciences protects web applications from attacks and data breaches for clients like Duo Security, Under Armor and DoorDash.</p><p>Prior to starting Signal Sciences, Peterson worked at Etsy, helping the online marketplace with international growth as a group project manager. Etsy <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/3056900/how-three-ex-etsy-employees-turned-their-old-employer-into-a-consumer" target="_blank">reportedly became </a>one of Signal Sciences's first customers. Peterson has also served stints as health information management officer at the Clinton Foundation and as a senior product specialist at Google.</p>
Ara Mahdessian<p>Ara Mahdessian is the co-founder of ServiceTitan, a SaaS product for managing a home services business.</p><p>The inspiration for ServiceTitan, Mahdessian's first company, came from watching his parents start their own businesses in building and plumbing, only to struggle with the logistics behind keeping them running, he <a href="https://www.inc.com/magazine/201906/emily-canal/servicetitan-immigrant-inclusion-diversity-best-workplaces-2019.html" target="_blank">told Inc in 2019</a>. Mahdessian and his co-founder Vahe Kuzoyan met while in college, and worked on several consulting projects before starting ServiceTitan, in hopes of aiding small business owners like their parents.</p>
Evan Spiegel<p>Evan Spiegel is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Snap Inc., the Venice-based company known for its app Snapchat. He's also one of the youngest billionaires in the world, launching Snapchat while still an undergraduate at Stanford. </p><p>SnapChat, the company's app, has recently been taking on rival TikTok <a href="https://dot.la/snap-spotlight-2649022645.html" data-linked-post="2649022645" target="_blank">with a new feature</a> and a program meant to attract creators to its platform. And it is been at the center of a larger national debate on the power of big tech. </p>
Spencer Rascoff<p>Spencer Rascoff is the founder of several companies, including dot.LA. He started his career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, later leaving to co-found travel website Hotwire. After serving as vice president of lodging at Expedia, he went on to found Zillow, an online real estate marketplace that went public in 2011.</p><p>Rascoff's most recent project is Pacaso, a marketplace for buying, selling and co-owning a second home.</p>
Tim Ellis<p>Tim Ellis is the co-founder and chief executive of Relativity Space, an autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite constellations. He is the youngest member on the National Space Council Users Advisory Group and serves on the World Economic Forum as a "technology pioneer."</p><p>Before founding Relativity Space, Ellis studied aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California and interned at Masten Space Systems and Blue Origin, where he worked after graduation. He was a propulsion engineer and brought metal 3D printing in-house to the company.</p>
Travis Schneider<p>Travis Schneider is the co-founder and co-chief executive of PatientPop, a practice growth platform for healthcare providers. He founded the company with Luke Kervin in 2014. <br><br>The two have founded three companies together, including ShopNation, a fashion shopping engine that was later acquired by the Meredith Commerce Network.</p>
Luke Kervin<p>Luke Kervin is the other co-founder and co-chief of PatientPop. He is a serial entrepreneur — his first venture was Starbrand Media, which was acquired by Popsugar in May 2008. <br><br>Kervin and Schneider then founded ShopNation, and when it was acquired in 2012, Kervin served as the general manager and vice president at the Meredith Commerce Network for a few years before leaving to found PatientPop.</p><p>Kervin had the idea for PatientPop when he and his wife were expecting their first child, he told <a href="http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-luke-kervin-patientpop-santa-monica/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">VoyageLA</a>. They were frustrated with how the healthcare system wasn't focused on the consumers it was meant to serve. So in 2014, he and Schneider created PatientPop.</p>
- The Angelenos in Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z's 'Entrepreneur' - dot.LA ›
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Shivani Siroya - dot.LA ›
- Los Angeles' Tech and Startup Scene is Growing. - dot.LA ›