WiseTech Global founder and CEO Richard White has returned to his rock n roll roots investing $11 million in ASX-listed music company, Vinyl Group (ASX: VNL) as part of a deal to acquire Australia’s largest youth publisher The Brag Media, publishers of local editions of Rolling Stone and Variety.
The billionaire, who made his fortune building his global logistics tech platform (ASX: WTC), began his working life as a roadie repairing guitars on tour for bands including AC/DC and The Angels. He is a serial startup investor, including backing the music licensing platform Songtradr, run by expat Australian Paul Wiltshire which last month announced a $106 million Series E.
White has now backed Vinyl Group by way of an $11 million placement and debt facility via his investment fund, RealWise Group Holdings. It follows a previous investment in June 2023.
Vinyl will pay $8 million in cash to acquire 100% of The Brag Media and its subsidiaries, with a further $2 million payable in cash or stock based on financial performance.
Unaudited Financial Year 2023 results highlight The Brag Media generated $8.39 million in revenues including $334,824 in net profit. The Brag Media has seen average revenue growth of 125% over the past two financial years, with FY23, would have been $9 million.
The Brag Media owns and publishes titles including TheBrag.com, The Music Network and Tone Deaf, and US brands Rolling Stone and Variety in Australia and New Zealand. It also exclusively represents local digital audiences for more than a dozen other titles including HypeBeast, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Music Feeds, ComingSoon, Rotten Tomatoes, Game Revolution and IndieWire. Its combined reache is around 10 million users a month in the region with over 40 million monthly page views.
Vinyl Group owns the music credits business Jaxsta, industry social-professional network and talent marketplace Vampr, and online record store Vinyl.com.
The Brag Media CEO and cofounder Luke Girgis will join Vinyl entered into a full-time employment agreement with the Company, as Brag’s publisher and MD, receiving five million options over two years, subject to meeting several conditions.
Girgis cofounded Brag in 2017 with Sam Benjamin in 2017, creating a fast-growing media brand. Benjamin, founder and MD of VC Seventh Street Ventures and hospitality platform Kaspa, more recently acquired and revived meal delivery platform Providoor, after it was placed in liquidation in April this year. He’s now focused on rebuilding that.
Girgis paid tribute to his cofounder in Brag Media’s success.
“This business would not have reached the heights that it has without Sam’s investment, support, leadership and mentorship over the past six years,” he said.
Vinyl Group CEO, Josh Simons, said the M&A deal was a natural fit.
“We’ve identified several impactful synergies between the two businesses that will deliver immediate cost efficiencies and revenue, including streamlining Vampr’s in-app ads business and leveraging The Brag Media’s impressive audience reach to bolster Jaxsta, Vinyl.com and Vampr in the market,” he said.
WiseTech Global’s Richard White said he’s watched closely as Simons built Vinyl Group’s revenue and is impressed by the ongoing success since his initial investment.
“I’ve also noted that Luke and his dedicated team at The Brag Media have rapidly grown Brag into one of Australia’s most influential media and creative businesses,” he said.
:There’s no doubt that iconic brands like Rolling Stone and Variety make sense and add value to VNL. Combined under the leadership of Josh and Vinyl Group, the consolidated business and team will have a lot more growth levers and options.”