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Once upon a time, Thrillist was just an email newsletter with a circulation of about 600 New Yorkers. It could tell you where to grab a nice cocktail, sit down for some amazing pasta, or get a good deal on a fashionable pair of pants. But today, Thrillist is more than that. It’s a massive online machine designed to stoke the consumerist impulses of young guys across the country and then satisfy those impulses.
Founded in New York City in 2004, Thrillist, which has annual revenue of $100 million, started out as a fast-growing media company with a newsletter for urban guys. Today, it also sells pants. And shirts--a lot of shirts. The acquisition of online men's-clothing retailer JackThreads in 2010 was a big risk for Thrillist co-founder Ben Lerer.
Thrillist, the local lifestyle guide for young urban guys, wants to prove that native advertising can actually sell products. Considering that a recent native ad program Thrillist executed for General Electric has led to an underground market on eBay for $2,000 sneakers, the site is off to an auspicious start.
A digital media company that offers city guides for metropolitan hubs like New York City, Miami and San Francisco. The company recommends restaurants, products and events via free, daily emails and also operates JackThreads, a flash sales site for men’s clothing. The company has raised $15 million from Oak Investment Partners, Lerer Ventures and Pilot Group since founding.
Thrillist has grown into a mini-media empire, spawning two additional websites and an e-commerce company that together saw revenues jump 53% last year, to $85 million. Advisers are urging the pair, now 32 and 34, to consider taking it public -- a show of confidence in their decision to sell things rather than rely heavily on advertising.
The web site Thrillist publishes daily e-mails aimed at a young, male audience, with tips about activities in various cities. But along with that content, it offers separate e-mails selling clothes and deals at local businesses, melding commerce and content in ways that have long made traditional publications bristle.
Ben Lerer, co-founder and chief executive of Thrillist Media, says his company’s acquisition of members-only online retailer JackThreads.com is a look into the future of media. “It’s what a modern media company looks like,” Lerer said. “Content plus commerce.”
When it comes to men's lifestyle content online, Thrillist Media Group believes it has the market covered. Its sites—food, drink and travel-focused Thrillist; technology- and lifestyle-based Supercompressor; and men's fashion portal JackThreads—tallied a combined 14 million monthly uniques in January.
Thrillist isn’t the first publisher to build out a content studio — everyone from The New York Times to Vice has spun one out — but Thrillist sees an opportunity to differentiate with a hardcore data focus that comes naturally to a publisher that’s also a retailer. For Thrillist’s 16-person brand content team, called The CoLab, that means using months-long brand health studies and benchmarking campaign performance against competitors.
In publishing, there's something called voice: the parlance of a certain outlet that jibes with its target demographic. Thrillist, the newsletter and ecommerce startup, has nailed its own demographic.
Ben Lerer was curious whether his online men's clothing store JackThreads would be viable outside the U.S. So one day earlier this year, he asked his Web developers to flip the switch. Suddenly, shoppers in Australia, Canada and the U.K. could begin ordering Duplex hoodies and Breda watches from JackThreads to be shipped to their homes. In just three weeks, those markets accounted for 15 percent of the division's sales.
At a time when men define themselves by their phones as much as they do their cars, Thrillist Media Group sees an opening for a new web publication to help young guys shop for tech. Launching on Oct. 23, Supercompressor will take a broader lifestyle approach; it’s not for guys looking to tear apart their motherboards. “This is not Engadget and Gizmodo,” explained Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer. “This is lifestyle tech; gear and gadgets.”
Thrillist's inception is not unlike the origin stories of many other companies: Two guys were looking for a product that didn't exist — in this case, a city guide that spoke to their particular demographic — and so they built it themselves.
Try these numbers on for size: 4 million subscribers, projected 2013 revenue of $75 million to $100 million. According to Jason Ross, founder and CEO of members-only men's fashion site JackThreads, that's what happens when you create a shopping experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
Ben Lerer used to make money by telling dudes where to spend their money, via his Thrillist email startup. He still does that, but now he also gets dudes to spend money via his JackThreads e-commerce site. Now Lerer has figured out a new line extension: Selling stuff to dudes overseas, via their phones.
In some ways, growth has come easy to Thrillist, the media property that University of Pennsylvania buddies Ben Lerer and Adam Rich launched in 2005 as a daily email lifestyle guide to New York. Seeded with close to $2 million from Bob Pittman's Pilot Group, the company turned a profit within two years as liquor and fashion advertisers sought to hang out with Thrillist's hard-to-reach cadre of young, affluent guys.
Thrillist Media Group has been telling young, urban makes what to eat, drink and buy since it launched as a daily newsletter in 2005. Now it wants to tell them where to go.
Men’s flash-sale site JackThreads today launched the private label line Goodale. There are 20 items in the first collection, with price points between $30 and $60, depending on the fabrication. Some basic items, such as denim and chinos in the bottoms category, will likely become replenishment offerings, while tops and sweaters that have more of a fashion component will have seasonal availability.
Lerer is excited about content and commerce. Really excited. That might be because his 260-person company Thrillist Media Group, which is on track to do $75 million to $100 million in revenue this year, is the first company to introduce what he’s calling “native commerce".
Mobile accounts for 68% of Jackthreads.com's traffic and more than 50% of its revenue. The vast majority of the retailer's mobile sales come from its iPhone app, which is designed to provide all the elements needed for mobile shopping, and nothing that's superfluous.
NEW YORK, NY (April 8, 2015) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Pittsburgh. The latest city edition from the leading men’s digital lifestyle brand will arm the people of Steel City with a wealth of knowledge about where to eat, drink and generally enjoy the city to the fullest.
NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2015) – Thrillist is excited to announce the launch of the Thrillist Hall of Fame, honoring the most timeless, most impactful and most important restaurants and bars around the country.
New York, NY (March 4, 2015) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Milwaukee. The latest city edition from the leading men’s digital lifestyle brand will arm the people of Milwaukee with a wealth of knowledge about where to eat, drink and generally enjoy the city to the fullest.
New York, NY (January 28, 2015) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Memphis. The latest city edition from the leading men’s digital lifestyle brand will arm the people of Memphis with a wealth of knowledge about where to eat, drink and generally enjoy the city to the fullest.
New York, NY (November 6, 2014) – JackThreads is excited to announce the launch of a collaboration with Westbrook Frames, the eyewear collection by one of the NBA’s biggest style icons – Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.
New York, NY (October 16, 2014) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG), the leading men’s digital media company and TouchTunes, the largest in-venue entertainment and engagement platform in North America, have partnered to create a first-of-its kind cross-platform ad solution that runs across mobile, web, social, email and now across TouchTunes’ network of 60,000 bars and restaurants throughout the U.S.
New York, NY (August 13, 2014) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Louisville, sponsored by Woodford Reserve.
New York, NY (June 25, 2014) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Nashville, sponsored by Jack Daniel’s Family of Brands.
New York, NY (June 5, 2014) - Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce 'Best Day of Your Life' (#BDOYL) - the 2nd annual national holiday and celebration of all things awesome, on the longest day of the year.
New York, NY (May 6, 2014) - Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of Thrillist Houston.
New York, NY (November 11, 2013) – Thrillist Media Group (TMG) is excited to announce the launch of “Shops” – a fully-integrated commerce experience on Thrillist and Supercompressor, sponsored at launch by Outlook.com, the official email sponsor.
New York, NY (October 24, 2013) – Thrillist Media Group is excited to announce the expansion of Jackthreads to Mexico, Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, New Zealand and Switzerland.
New York, NY (September 20, 2013) – Jackthreads is excited to announce the release of its newly rebuilt Android app. The men’s online retailer has already seen incredible success on mobile, which currently accounts for two-thirds of total traffic and nearly half of sales. With the launch of the new app, the company projects that mobile revenue will grow by more than 350 percent over 2012.
New York, NY (September 3, 2013) – Thrillist Media Group is excited to announce the release of Thrillist’s new, entirely recreated iPhone app, sponsored at launch by Acura MDX.
New York, NY (August 7, 2013) – Thrillist is excited to announce its plans to invest deeper into local content, launching in over 40 new cities by the end of next year with the ultimate goal of servicing its audience of young, urban men wherever they go.
New York, NY (May 15, 2013) – JackThreads is excited to announce the release of its first iPad app.