Axios, the digital media company that quickly gained traction since its founding five years ago with its distinctive bulletin-style scoops on the realms of politics, business and technology, said on Monday that it had agreed to sell itself to Cox Enterprises.
The deal, which is set to close this month, values Axios at $525 million, according to two people with knowledge of the deal.
The deal is structured so that the company’s three founders — Jim VandeHei, the chief executive; Roy Schwartz, the president; and Mike Allen, a journalist — have financial incentives to stay at the company. Each will be a minority shareholder and will continue to make day-to-day newsroom and business decisions. Alex Taylor, the chief executive and chairman of Cox Enterprises, will join the Axios board.
Axios became a Beltway media fixture shortly after it was founded in 2017, with readers devouring stories about President Donald J. Trump and his administration. Jonathan Swan, Axios’s national political correspondent, gained attention for his probing on-camera sitdowns with Mr. Trump and White House officials, and newsletters from journalists such as Dan Primack and Sara Fischer captured the attention of the business set.
The deal offers a rare flicker of hope for the digital publishing sector, which has been fraught with difficulty for investors and operators over the last decade. Some of Axios’s peers have struggled to go public, sell or raise funding at favorable valuations as investors have cooled on digital advertising, a market dominated by tech giants like Google, Meta and Amazon.
Axios is selling at roughly five times its projected 2022 revenue of more than $100 million, according a person who was familiar with a presentation that Axios made to its board. The company was profitable for the last three years but is not expected to be profitable in 2022, partly owing to investments in HQ, its communications software division, the person said.
In an interview, Mr. VandeHei said…
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