Not even six years after launching its news site, Axios made a deal with Cox Enterprises worth some $525 million, the two companies announced Monday.
The deal combines two very different businesses.
Axios is a startup based in Arlington, Va., famous for condensed, easy-to-read bullet-pointed stories.
On the other hand, Cox is a family-owned conglomerate headquartered in Atlanta.
The company owns Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other enterprises in broadband and other areas.
Cox Enterprises was already a top investor in Axios.
Axios came out of nowhere in 2017 and quickly became known for its political coverage, newsletters, and sleek brevity style.
Their style quickly became a reader favorite.
The national political reporter, Jonathan Swan, got a lot of attention for his in-depth interviews with President Donald Trump and White House officials.
The business paid attention to newsletters from journalists like Dan Primack and Sara Fischer.
Co-founders of Axios Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz will continue to make daily editorial and business decisions for the site.
VandeHei, Allen, and Schwartz will continue to have “substantial stakes” in the company.
The three co-founders will stay on the board, but Cox Enterprises will be in charge with four seats on the board.
“We have found our kindred spirit for creating a great, trusted, consequential media company that can outlast us all,” VandeHei said.
“Our shared ambitions should be clear: to spread clinical, nonpartisan, trusted journalism to as many cities and as many topics as fast as possible.”
Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises chief executive, commended Axios as a “forward-thinking organization.”
Cox Enterprises plans to help Axios continue to grow and succeed.
Axios was started by VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz after they left the Politico website. The name “Axios” comes from the Greek word for “worthy.”
In the spring of 2021, there were rumors that a German media giant named Axel Springer wanted to buy the website. However, Axel Springer bought Politico instead.
It’s reported that Axios still has plenty of that cash because it’s always been profitable.
Axios has said that “EVERY employee is an owner” of the company, so the sale should be great for them.
The price of Axios is more than five times what it was expected to make this year, which was $100 million. Axios also says that Cox will put $25 million into Axios’ media business as part of the deal.
The acquisition comes as Axios launches three local newsletters this month in San Francisco, Houston, and Miami.
In July, the company said that its Axios Local newsletters had more than 1 million subscribers in 24 markets and that their newsletters have made up more than 50% of its revenue in recent years.
“With so much happening in the world, Axios plays a critical role in delivering balanced, trusted news that people need,” Taylor said.
“Our company started in the media business, and we have always had a passion for journalism.”
The deal would not affect Cox Enterprises’ other media companies, like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Dayton Daily News.
The software side of the company, Axios HQ, will not be sold to Cox Enterprises as part of the deal.
It will instead become a separate company that VandeHei and Schwartz will run as chairman and CEO, respectively.
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