Continuing acquisition spree, Bustle buys Inverse

Bustle Digital Group has made another acquisition in an attempt to grow beyond its female-focused audience. On Tuesday, the venture-backed publisher plans to announce it has acquired Inverse, a science- and geek culture-focused site founded by Dave Nemetz, who co-founded Bleacher Report along with Bryan Goldberg. Nemetz will stay on as evp of Inverse, overseeing its business side.

Inverse is the third title that BDG has acquired this year, following The Outline and Nylon. It will be part of a collection of technology and culture brands overseen by Joshua Topolsky, whose site, The Outline, Bustle Digital Group acquired in March.

At the outset, the acquisition will not lead to any layoffs, Topolsky said, noting that he intends to keep “most everybody.” Inverse editorial staffers will begin moving over onto Bustle Digital Group’s proprietary CMS, Typeset, immediately.

“BDG has some big plans to expand into new areas of coverage, to move into the culture and innovation space, and also really expand the types of advertisers they can work with,” Inverse founder Nemetz said. “The idea is to continue with our mission of taking a scientific approach to covering the world.”

Inverse has a lot of traits that align with Bustle’s, including a focus on search traffic. Nearly 80% of its desktop traffic comes from search, according to Similarweb.

The site also has established relationships with advertisers that Bustle Digital Group, whose stable is headlined by titles focused mostly on women, have fewer inroads with. In the past year, Inverse worked on direct deals with brands including Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, LG, Shell, Square Enix, and ESPN. Most of Inverse’s revenue comes from display advertising and branded content, though it has made progress with newsletter sponsorship and affiliate commerce. A spokesperson said Inverse’s revenues were up 70% year over year, but declined to share a hard number or say whether it was profitable.

Discussions between Goldberg, Nemetz and Topolsky over the prospect of an acquisition began shortly after the Outline deal this spring. Nemetz declined to share details about how much BDG paid. To date, Inverse had raised $6 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase.

Adding Inverse will grow BDG’s audience meaningfully. Inverse averaged more than 9 million monthly unique users through the first half of 2019, according to Comscore. Over that same period, Bustle Digital Group averaged 50 million monthly unique users, also per Comscore.

Bustle Digital Group has used acquisitions in the past to augment its capabilities and its offering to the market. The 2017 acquisition of Elite Daily was framed as a way to drive platform video; its acquisition of Flavorpill in late 2018 was styled as an opportunity to gain experience in events and experiential marketing; last year, it acquired and merged a number of Instagram accounts to help triple the size of its Instagram audience .

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