Contently's New $9 Million Crown Proves Content Is King
In an information economy where attention is money, having dynamite content is the way to win. New York City-based startup Contently is revolutionizing the way online content is produced, and it's getting some attention of its own.
Contently raised $9 million this week in its second round of venture capital funding. The raise was led by Sigma West and Sigma Prime Ventures, with additional funding from Lightbank, Contour Ventures, and serial entrepreneur and investor David Lerner, according to a statement from the company. This is Contently's second raise. In 2012, the company raised $2 million.
Founded in 2010, Contently is a platform that helps journalists share their work and search for gigs and helps content marketing companies find talent. It represents the kind of collaboration between media and marketers that would have old-school, by-the-book journalists roll over in their graves.
But those journalists wouldn't recognize the industry today. The number of professionals who are working on a freelance basis as opposed to a full time basis has been on steadily on the rise in recent years across all industries, but in particular in the journalism industry.
Newspaper newsrooms have seen some of the most severe hemorrhaging. According to Pew Research's 2013 State of the News Media Report, newspaper newsroom staffs were down 30 percent in 2012 from their peak in 2000 and the number of full-time newspaper newsroom staffers in the U.S. fell below 40,000 for the first time since 1978. As newsroom staffs shrink, news consumers are ditching some of their old information-gathering haunts. Almost one-third of survey respondents say they have abandoned a particular news outlet because it has changed beyond recognition, according to the Pew report.
At the same time that freelance journalism has grown, there's been a surge in how much marketing executives are spending on content such as written stories, videos and social media. A survey of 2,500 marketing companies compiled by the digital marketing automation and analytics software company ExactTarget found that in 2014, spending on content is set to surge. More than half of respondents -- 57 percent -- say they plan to increase their spending on content management this year.
The new landscape in the storytelling industry resulting from fewer full-time journalism staffers and an increase demand for brand content has spelled some serious opportunity for Contently. Its revenues and profits were up 400 percent in 2013 over 2012, according to Shane Snow, one of Contently's co-founders.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.