(Bleacher Report CEO Brian Grey, having a laugh at any suggestion he divide $22 million by 7000)
Earlier this week, Bleacher Report announced a series of new hires straight-from-the-blogosphere, amongst them, Free Darko’s Bethlehelm Shoals. That an organization like B/R would covet Shoals’ talents and reputation is not hard to understand, but coming so quickly on the heels of Shoals’ widely promoted involvement in the writer-owned The Classical, the timing could best be called unfortunate. Shoals’ weirdly defensive introductory offering (“I simply don’t understand how an extremely smart company making a commitment to the quality of its content is a bad thing…I suppose we can choose to waste a resource like Bleacher Report to prove a point, hammer home a grudge, or enforce conventional wisdom,”) is striking in at least two ways ; B/R’s reliance on unpaid writers is actually defended (“they could do far worse than to start out at a place that can guarantee them eyeballs”) yet there’s not one mention of the independent, content creator-owned website to which Shoals has been linked.
If indeed, there’s anything to be learned from the geniuses at Bleacher Report, as Shoals has claimed, it might have more to do with the success employment of an exploitative business model, as Adweek’s Emma Bazilian reports the site has raised another $22 million with Oak Investment Partners and prior investors. And you thought The Classical’s $50K goal was lofty!
“Sports is a big opportunity and no one has gotten it right yet,” Harman said. “I’d argue Bleacher Report has done a far better job of embracing the capabilities of the online medium than the big sports name brands have.”
The site wasn’t planning on raising money for another six months, said Grey, but it was expanding so rapidly—year-over-year page views are up 150 percent, time on site is up 50 percent, and unique visits are up 75 percent—that they decided to pull the trigger ahead of schedule.
The investment will go towards building the company, according to TechCrunch. Some of the money will go towards expanding the site’s sales team, hiring some of its unpaid contributors, and reinvesting in the technology of the platform.