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Yet Another Big Funding Round for a Big Web Publisher -- This Time for Vox Media

BuzzFeed raised $50 million this summer. Now it's time for the people behind the Verge and Vox.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Remember when investors didn’t want to put money into content?

That was a long time ago!

Here’s another example of where things stand today: Vox Media, the company behind high-profile sites including the Verge, SB Nation and Vox, has raised $46.5 million in a round led by General Atlantic. The funding gives Vox a post-money valuation of about $380 million, according to people familiar with the transaction.

Jim BankoffThe new money comes a little more than a year after Vox raised a round that was nearly as big. It means that Vox, led by former AOL executive Jim Bankoff, has raised around $110 million in the last six years.

Bankoff says the money is a sign investors are buying his pitch: He says Vox represents a new breed of content company that can take advantage of the tech-inflected turmoil established companies are going through. “Things are starting to unbundle,” he said. “Magazines and newspapers are starting to be disrupted. Cable networks are next. I think a lot of investors look around and say, ‘This is a new opportunity.'”

In the last 12 months, Bankoff has spent a lot of his cash buying and building new businesses — he picked up the Curbed Network of food, fashion and retail blogs, and made a big splash by launching Vox, run by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. This time, Bankoff says he’s going to use the new money to “grow existing brands” and build out the company’s native advertising business. (Then again, he said something similar last year).

I’ve heard other digital-media folks suggest that Vox Media must be burning an astonishing amount of money given its giant staff — it’s up to 350 employees now — and whopping funding rounds. But Bankoff says he’s closing in on profitability this year and expects to turn a profit in 2015.

“Our investors and our board see a lot of opportunity, and they want us to invest in new things. But they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think the business is working,” he said. We’ll hear a lot more from Bankoff on Thursday, when he joins us for an onstage interview at our Code/Media San Francisco event. (You should join us, too!)

Vox Media’s raise comes in the same year that Business Insider (see my ethics statement for a disclosure) raised $12 million in a round led by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Andreessen Horowitz put $50 million into BuzzFeed.

But not all big new media properties are equal in investors’ eyes. Even though BuzzFeed and Vox Media each claim a worldwide audience of 150 million monthly visitors* and have raised similar amounts of money, BuzzFeed’s last round valued the company at $850 million — more than two Vox Medias.

* As is usually the case, the internal metrics that Vox Media uses — this time, citing Google Analytics — don’t sync up with the external ones provided by comScore, the Web measurement firm that most outsiders, including advertisers, rely on. ComScore pegs Vox Media’s “multiplatform” total for U.S. visitors at 50 million, but doesn’t have a worldwide number that includes both desktop and mobile visitors.

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