Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Advocate and Out company sold to owner of High Times

by Fred Kuhr

Here Publishing, which owns such venerable LGBT publications as Out and The Advocate, is under new ownership.

According to release from the L.A.-based company, it has been acquired by a consortium of management from its various publications and Oreva Capital, the investment firm led by entrepreneur Adam Levin, who is also CEO of High Times.
Adam Levin, head of Oreva Capital

In addition to Out and The Advocate, the sale includes such properties as Pride, Plus, Out Traveler, LGBT.com, and other intellectual property. They will now be collectively known as Pride Media Inc.

According to the newly formed company, citing numbers from Comscore, print and tablet editions of its properties reach 2.4 million and owned digital properties generate 5.2 million unique visitors.

Here managers have taken an equity stake in the new company and plan to remain in their current roles. Lucas Grindley, the former managing editor for online at National Journal and six-year Here veteran, will continue to oversee operations of the company.

Management worked with Oreva Capital to secure controlling ownership. “There is no better bet in media or advertising these days than on passionate, connected communities,” said Levin. “We are excited and feel extremely honored to have the opportunity to work with brands such as The Advocate, Out and Pride and realize their next phase of growth,” said Levin, who will represent Oreva on the board of directors. Levin became the acting CEO of High Times magazine and the Cannabis Cup after leading a consortium acquisition of the leading cannabis brand earlier in the year.

Levin will look to leverage the best practices from Here to help modernize High Times media properties. Likewise, Levin will utilize best practices and synergies from the thriving Cannabis Cup to expand Here Publishing’s events business.

The amount Levin paid to acquire Here Publishing from former owner Here Media is being kept under wraps. But he told CNN that Oreva paid over $42 million for High Times.

As far as the connection between owning High Times and LGBT media brands, Levin told Reuters, "We are looking for brands that have strong emotional ties with a community. We think there is a unique opportunity in niche media brands that are undervalued and have further ways to monetize the intellectual property."

Business for the new company looks to be booming. Over the first half of 2017, the brands have increased revenue by 17 percent, including a hugely successful Pride month in June, which increased revenue 86 percent  compared to the same period last year. The brand is also further developing its video strategy, with 2017’s video advertising earnings already doubling that of last year.

And this is why those who work with LGBT media see this sale as such a positive development. “It shows real interest in the LGBT market and media,” said Todd Evans, owner of Rivendell Media and publisher of Press Pass Q.  “Many in LGBT media have been under financed, and that has limited its growth. That is the case with Here Media, which had a number of problems, including a large lawsuit they had to settle. Now that all that is behind them, this should mark some real growth in national LGBT media. Plus, while local titles have their niche of local news and community events, national LGBT media has seemed lost. This kind of investment should lead to increased circulations and stronger content.”

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