Thrillist Media Group Raises Serious Cash

In a candid interview, CEO Lerer admits 'we're too email-centric'

With the announcement of its $13.1 million series A funding round, the men's lifestyle media group Thrillist has a reason to start happy hour early this Friday.

Often labelled as a "Daily Candy" for guys, Thrillist publishers hip-insider-aimed emails loaded with tips and reviews on hot new restaurants and bars in roughly 20 U.S. markets. In 2010 the company expanded its purview into e-commerce with the acquisition of JackThreads.

For Thrillist CEO and co-founder Ben Lerer, the new investment led by Oak Investment Partners means one thing: focus.  "When I announced the round to the company yesterday I said 'this is super exciting but nothing's going to change," he told Adweek. "We haven’t been waiting to do things with this money. We’ve always been profitable, we haven’t been cash constrained but it certainly takes a little bit of the pressure off from where should we go. Now we can reinforce that we’re consumer first."

Lerer was candid about Thrillist's current state, and even his own leadership capabilities as a young CEO "I'm often realizing how unwise I was when I started this thing," he said. Yet Lerer appears to have a concrete vision for the future in place. "We now have a big opportunity to create a lot more content in new areas, like investing more into video and a lot more into mobile development across the board and make the experience platform agnostic. We’re too email centric at Thrillist right now or at least too email-centric to grow the business the way we want to make it bigger and better."

Lerer hinted at a few new possible content verticals like travel, gadgets, and fashion, that could be built out to complement the success of Thrillist's food and drink content. Lerer also noted that the money would allow for an expansion of the sales and ad teams and maybe even an acquisition of a smaller company, should such an opportunity become available. 

With the new round secure Lerer seemed relieved to get back to present day operations. When asked about the likelihood of an IPO, something Lerer mentioned last February, he seemed less interested in the long term. "The only things this changes is I don’t want to do this for a long time," he said. "I don’t want to be distracted by having to think about the exit and the raise. I want to build the product and focus on that. If we make the right decisions down the line I know we can stand up to public scruitiny but we’re not there yet. We have a shit load of work to do and I don’t want to operate this thing for a date in the future. We’re having fun and doing really great work." 

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