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After Mulling Sale, Business Insider Raising a New Round of Funding

Is content -- at least the online kind -- king again?

Business Insider — which rejected an informal acquisition offer of around $100 million floated by AOL last year and has discussed other sale efforts — is likely to be raising a new round from its existing investors, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

As recently as December, Business Insider co-founder Kevin Ryan was telling potential acquirers in meetings that he would be willing to sell the site for $200 million.

Since that price has apparently not been met, the group is raising a new round, with some of the same investors who have already put money into the company, including Institutional Venture Partners, RRE Ventures and Bezos, as well as an angel investment from well-known Marc Andreessen.

Those investors put $5 million into the six-year-old, wide-ranging news website focused on business last year, and although coverage of that deal suggested Bezos accounted for most of the round, other investors also put in more.

This time, he is likely to take a much bigger piece of the funding, via his personal investment vehicle, Bezos Expeditions, “because he is nuts for that site,” said a person familiar with the funding plans.

Sources said the last round at Business Insider — run and co-founded by Henry Blodget — was done at a valuation of $60 million. In total, the startup has raised about $18 million.

The new valuation in the current fundraising will be well north of that, said sources.

When it did its last funding, Bloomberg cited sources who said Business Insider did about $10 million in revenue in 2012. Other sources today said it doubled that in 2013, with close to $20 million in revenue.

It is apparently not regularly profitable, although it has been investing heavily in new research products and international versions launched in 2013. But it was profitable in the fourth quarter, said sources.

Based on comScore data, including mobile, its traffic is hovering at 20 million unique monthly visitors, bringing it equal with big traditional financial sites of large media companies.

Mashable, which is also large and is now regularly profitable, did its raise a much milder valuation — $13 million in a valuation of more than $50 million.

More context: Forbes Media, which did roughly $145 million in sales this year, is asking $400 million in its sale, although many think it is worth half that. As Peter Kafka reported last week, Time Inc. offered less than $200 million for that company.

Last summer, after making his investment in Business Insider, Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million and has been interested in media investing.

(Disclosure: Re/code’s Peter Kafka owns a small number of shares in Business Insider, due to his former employment there. Those shares will only have value if the company exits at a high price.)

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