Food media is a competitive market and everyone has their eyes set on millennials. Like Hanzel and Gretel before them, young people are being aggressively courted with food and Fexy Media just added a new gingerbread house to its portfolio.
The Seattle-based media company acquired Simply Recipes, a cooking and recipe blog created and run by Elise Bauer. It’s Fexy Media’s sixth acquisition since launching. Simply Recipes joins other popular food sites Serious Eats, Roadfood, and Relish, in Fexy’s portfolio.
“We really feel like it’s a fantastic brand and Elise Bauer, who founded it, has really done an amazing job with it,” said Cliff Sharples, co-founder and co-CEO of Fexy Media. “We all feel that together with Elise that we can really build off that success and make this a much larger digital property.”
In addition to his current venture, Cliff also serves as “Chief Cultivator” for gardening social network DigtheDirt.com. He worked in executive roles for Seattle-based Cheezburger and HomeAway in Austin, before founding Fexy Media with his wife Lisa Sharples. Together they launched the online media acquisition firm in 2014, intending to focus on “digital video for millennials spanning the food, lifestyle, finance, health and parenting categories.”
Fexy Media averages approximately 13 million unique visitors per month across its millennial-focused properties, according to Cliff Sharples. He declined to say whether the company was fundraising or disclose how much the Simply Recipes acquisition cost.
Last year, Fexy announced a $10 million round, led by Austin-based Tritium Partners. According to Cliff Sharples, Fexy Media has targeted a $40 million fund from Tritium for its initial set of acquisitions. This latest round of financing constitutes approximately $25 million in capital raised from Tritium’s fund so far.
“The whole premise behind Fexy, when we started it, was to create a new media company that’s digital-first, that’s really the next generation’s go-to set of brands for food and lifestyle-oriented content,” said Cliff Sharples. “So as we make investments we’re looking for those brands that have gained traction with that audience and both Serious Eats and Simply Recipes, as the number one and number two highest indexing sites for millennials in the digital food space, really represent that strategy.”
Fexy Media is one of many lifestyle brands hungry for the 18-34-year-old market. Allrecipes —where Lisa Sharples previously spent six years as president leading the company to prominence and a $175 million acquisition — recently rolled out a millennial-focused redesign. Despite making waves among some of its existing users, the changes to the site helped Allrecipes expand its millennial audience. Those same priorities are echoed at Fexy Media, where many previous Allrecipes employees now work, according to Cliff Sharples.
It’s no surprise that online brands are eager to get the attention of younger audiences. This cohort is coveted by advertisers due to its size and newly-found spending power.
Fexy Media’s newest acquisition is part of its long-term strategy to cater to the millennial market. Simply Recipes is the most popular cooking blog for women ages 25 to 49, according to comScore indexing.
Bauer launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a family recipe blog, focused on sharing meals she cooked in her parents’ kitchen. But Bauer was no small-potatoes cooking blogger. She had a secret recipe for success that gave her an advantage. Before launching the site, she’d spent over 15 years in Silicon Valley as a strategy and marketing consultant and online startup exec.
“Our strategy is to really go after very talented individuals that have authentic voices that connect to today’s generation, to the millennial audience, and then build off of that and take our capabilities — Lisa, myself and our team — of building great brands, and great monetization, and business intelligence and technology around that talent,” Cliff Sharples said.
Editors note: This story was updated on Monday May 2, with clarification on Fexy Media’s total funding to date.