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How Much is Barstool Sports Worth?

FanDuelCheddarBuzzfeedBarstool Sports

Michael Wenner   November 08, 2019

Saturdays Are For The Buyouts

In 2003 a print publication founded by David Portnoy called Barstool Sports began offering gambling advertisements and fantasy sports projections. Over the years, it has evolved into a full blown media powerhouse beyond sports, known for everything from its pizza reviews to its podcast empire.

Barstool is now the sixth-most popular podcast publisher in the U.S. ahead of juggernauts such as ESPN and NBC News. With a reach that most media companies would die for, Barstool sees more than 66 million monthly unique users with 46% of them in the coveted 18-34 age demographic. Barstool counts nearly 2 million followers on Twitter and more than 7 million followers on Instagram among its “Stoolies.”

(via PodTrace)

In 2016 Barstool hired Erika Nardini, who was previously the Chief Marketing Officer of AOL, as its CEO. Before being hired, she was “hugely passionate about the site for a long time.” Prior to AOL, she had senior positions at Microsoft, Yahoo!, Fidelity and Demand Media, where she oversaw media management for corporations such as Volkswagen, Goodyear and Royal Caribbean.

Dave Portnoy and Erika Nardini

Nardini believes Barstool can be a $100 million revenue company in 2020. Speaking about Barstool’s reach, Nardini said “Brands are finding that if they want to reach an 18-34 year-old and move product, we are an exceptionally good bet.” With only 55% of the company’s revenue coming from ads, they’ve found ways to monetize just about everything. They offer “Rough N Rowdy” pay-per-view fights, various subscriptions and enough merchandise to match any major sports team.

Portnoy discusses the Chernin investment

In 2016, Portnoy sold 51% of Barstool to The Chernin Group “for about $10 million.” A couple years later in 2018, Chernin invested another $15 million in Barstool, reportedly valuing the company at $100 million. The Chernin Group’s CEO Peter Chernin, who is on the board of American Express and was previously on the boards of Twitter, Pandora, DirecTV and E-Trade, liked what he saw. Other notable companies he has invested in include Cameo, The PLL, The Athletic and most recently, Food52.

Peter Chernin (CBS News/Getty Images)

So where does Barstool go from here? Like any valuable media property, Portnoy and Chernin will likely want to cash out, given the right price. But who would be interested in acquiring them and how much would it cost?

Last week, we got a taste of who the most likely acquirer would be, when news broke saying Barstool was in “advanced stages” to sell the company to a gambling operator. If it’s a gambling operator, there’s two likely companies that would be interested in Barstool. Paddy Power Betfair, which acquired FanDuel for $465 million, is one likely suitor. The other likely suitor could be DraftKings, which tried to merge with FanDuel but was blocked by the FTC because the combined company would’ve held 90% market share.


So why would a gambling operator want to buy Barstool so badly? Barstool’s recently launched Barstool Bets would naturally be a good fit for a gambling operator. They could also leverage Barstool’s vast reach to gain more gamblers. With the Supreme Court ruling last year that sports betting can be regulated at the state level, sports betting is likely to see exponential growth over the next few years.

That leaves one question. What would it cost to acquire Barstool? Bleacher Report sold for between $175 million and $200 million on $40 million in revenues. Cheddar sold for $200 million while it was on pace for $50 million in revenues. Refinery29, which is said to have $100 million in revenue, just got acquired for around $400 million. Having a hot media property does not automatically equate to a big payday though, as BuzzFeed and Vice found out.

Acquisitions in the Digital Media Space (via Sara Fischer/Axios)

With a media empire that has a diehard following, it’s worth keeping an eye on Barstool to see what route Portnoy and Chernin go with should they decide they’re ready to get paid.

Funding Rounds We're Watching

USD, CAD, doesn't matter, it's still a unicorn. Coveo, "the pioneers of cloud-based AI-powered search and recommendations," has closed a $227 million CAD, or $172 million USD, funding round. The round now gives the Canadian company a valuation "well above $1 billion, Canadian or U.S. dollars," according to CEO Louis Tetu. Coveo has seen its valuation soar, as it previously raised money at a post-money valuation of about $370 million. Coveo has about 500 customers and has seen its subscription revenue grow 55% year-over-year.

From delivering food to protecting data. Nightfall, which uses machine learning to identify sensitive data and then protect it, has come out of stealth with $20.3 million in funding. The company, which is co-founded by the former lead engineer of Uber Eats, scans services such as Slack, GitHub and AWS for sensitive data and then classifies and protects it. As part of the funding round, the former CEO of cybersecurity giant Symantec will join Nightfall's board of directors. Nightfall’s CEO Isaac Madan said the "lack of any products on the market" to deal with potential data leaks across multiple applications inspired them to build Nightfall

It doesn't get more niche than this. Boulevard, which is a business management platform for salons and spas, has raised $11 million in a series A round. The company, which has about 50 employees and is processing over $100 million in payments for customers, will use the funds to expand headcount across all departments. Boulevard says its software has helped customers increase service booked, retail revenue and tips, while decreasing no-shows or late cancellations. While this may appear to be a limited market, think again, barbershops and salons are a $315 billion industry in the U.S. composed of 3 million businesses and 4 million independent aestheticians. 

"You see my self-driving 1992 Honda Civic?" Ghost Locomotion, which is creating a way to retrofit cars with a kit that will enable cars to drive autonomously on highways, has come out of stealth with $63.7 million in funding. The company, which has quietly been working on this since 2017, says it will deliver the kits by 2020. According to the company's co-founder and CEO John Hayes, who was a founder of Pure Storage, Ghost Locomotion is focusing on highways, rather than urban areas like its competitors. "It didn’t seem like anyone was actually trying to solve driving on the highways," said Hayes.

You knew someone would do this. FirstVet, which is a digital veterinary clinic offering video meetings between you, your animal and a local veterinarian, has raised €18.5 million, or just over $20 million, in Series B funding. The Swedish company will use the funds to expand, particularly to the U.S., Germany and France, and develop the product and introduce new features. FirstVet, which currently operates in just five markets, already has more than 200,000 users consulting with 150 veterinarians. The company's goal is pretty simple according to its CEO and co-founder, who said "Our main objective is to be the natural first point of contact for pet owners."

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