Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is investing in Business Insider, the technology news operation led by former Wall Street investment banker Henry Blodget. Business Insider is raising $5 million in the round, with Blodget saying in a memo to staff that Bezos got interested in the business about a year ago over a dinner that they had.
Total funding in Business Insider, which had $10 million in sales last year, now stands at just over $18 million. The 6-year-old media company’s traffic is growing fast, topping 24 million monthly visitors, according to Bloomberg.
Business Insider is known for its attention-grabbing headlines, and aggregation of content from other news sources. Current headlines on the site include: “Funny 4-Year-Old Refuses Kiss From Prince William” and ”8 Reasons It’s Great To Get A Job At The Apple Store.”
The investment is interesting in part because Amazon.com is one of the most press-shy companies in the technology industry. Executives rarely grant interviews, and the company routinely declines to comment on stories about it.
But Bezos and Blodget may have connected over their Wall Street backgrounds. (Bezos’ early career was spent at D.E. Shaw). Interestingly, the careers of the two men have intersected in the past, with Blodget famously predicting in 1998 that Amazon.com’s stock would soar past $400 per share. It did, and Blodget’s career was launched. (Blodget also was later banned from the securities industry for publicly supporting tech stocks, even though e-mails he sent to colleagues expressed skepticism over their prospects).
Here’s the memo that Blodget sent to staffers this morning about the deal.
I wanted to share the details of the financing we mentioned last night. (Apologies for not being able to share them then — closing these things is an administrative nightmare, and it took a few hours longer than we hoped).
I’m going to post about this shortly after 10 a.m. Please don’t say anything or tweet about it until after the post hits.
Basically, Jeff Bezos is making a significant investment in the company. Our existing investors are also chipping in some more. In total, we’re raising $5 million.
This capital will allow us to continue to invest aggressively in many areas of the business, including editorial, tech/product, sales and marketing, subscriptions, and events. As we mentioned last night, it will also allow us to expand our office.
Jeff’s investment grew out of a dinner he and I had about a year ago. We talked about the business, and he was excited about it. (He sees some parallels with Amazon). A few months later, he expressed an interest in investing. My reaction was basically “Hell, yeah!”
Jeff’s vision, leadership, and philosophy at Amazon have inspired a whole generation of startups and entrepreneurs, including me. Amazon has always focused on customers first, knowing that, if they do a great job at that, everything else will take care of itself. This obsession with customers and long-term focus are the reasons that Amazon has been so successful. And this philosophy is something that we very much want to emulate. (We have two sets of customers, obviously — readers and sponsors. And we’re obsessed with both).
Jeff’s interest, and Business Insider’s extraordinary success over the past year, are due to your efforts on behalf of our readers and our clients. We have improved and grown dramatically, and we were pretty good to begin with.
Our goal is simple: To become the best digital business publication on the planet. We’re making great progress toward that. And this investment will help us get there.
Thank you again for your incredible work over the past year. Here’s to an even better 2013.