Good Worldwide Inc. is planning an Upworthy merger.
Good, a global media and social impact company headquartered near Miracle Mile, is joining forces with New York’s Upworthy media. Executives at both companies said the move will position the new entity as a leader in social good media and consulting.
Upworthy will join Good after the merger, and each company will continue to operate as standalone brands and maintain separate identities for the foreseeable future. Ben Goldhirsh and Max Schorr will remain co-chief executives of Good, and Upworthy co-founder and Chief Executive Eli Pariser will join as president.
The companies have not announced an official date for the merger and terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
“We started Good with the mission to help people live well and do good,” said Schorr. “Our response over the last decade has been incredible, yet we know there is so much more work to be done. Together we are in a strong position to drive progress. There is so much more momentum now in the space than 10 years ago when we started.”
After the merger, the new entity will begin the process of registering as a B Corporation, said Jennifer Lindenauer, Upworthy’s marketing vice president.
The merged company will be headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in New York. Schorr said it would have more than 100 total employees on both coasts.
Lindenauer described the partnership as a merger, not an acquisition of Upworthy by Good. She said the final terms of the deal are still being worked out.
“The benefit of keeping both brands is that both have a very committed audience with very little overlap,” Lindenauer said. “Keeping both brands ensures we have an even larger reach than we do alone.”
The companies provide branded content to millennial-targeting companies including Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Paypal, P&G, Starbucks, and the United Nations Foundation.
Together Upworthy and Good reach more than 275 million people on Facebook, billions of clients with video content, and receive a combined total of 31 million unique visitors to their websites, according to company officials.
Along with its media and social impact company, Good publishes Good magazine. The publication last week won a National Magazine Award for personal service reporting.
The company has also produced original content short films and videos and last year partnered with Google to develop live-streaming festival Goodfest.
Upworthy, a self-described mission-driven media company, was founded by Pariser, who came from MoveOn.org, and Peter Koechley, a former managing editor of satirical website The Onion. Upworthy launched on March 26, 2012, and by the end of October of that year it had attracted a reported 8.7 million users, leading Business Insider to name it the fastest-growing media company in the world.
It has received $12 million in funding through two rounds, according to Crunchbase. Its first round included investment from Reddit co-founder and Executive Chairman Alexis Ohanian and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.
Alan D. Mutter, a UC Berkeley media economics instructor and media consultant, said the companies have similar goals, so cooperation might be better than competition.
Upworthy’s viral content suffered a blow in December 2013 when Facebook reportedly made substantial changes to its algorithm that determines what kind of updates users would see in their news feeds. That same month, Upworthy’s traffic dropped 25 percent to 67 million people, and even further in January 2014 to 48 million.
Lindenauer said any problems with Facebook have since been resolved.
“Facebook consistently changes their algorithm and we adjust. Upworthy saw early success from ‘curiosity gap’ headlines – a concept that was new to the market,” she said in an email. “These are headlines that pique curiosity, but our goal was to make sure the story delivered. Many other publishers copied the format with stories that didn’t deliver, and click bait was born. Facebook depressed that content which impacted many publishers, but Upworthy pivoted away from those headlines and towards original content.”
“Our Facebook reach is bigger than ever,” Lindenauer said.
Goldhirsh, who started Good in 2006, bankrolled the company himself, funding the venture from money received with the death in quick succession of his parents while he was in college. His father, Bernard, had started a pair of business periodicals, including Inc. Magazine, which he sold for a reported $200 million.
“These are two well-intentioned niche companies that hope to achieve greater scale – therefore, they hope, achieving greater profitability – by combining resources, eliminating duplicative functions and consolidating their respective market presences in a single entity,” Berkeley’s Mutter said in an email. “In other words, they have decided it is better to partner up than to compete with one another for the same market opportunity.”
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