Progressive media outlet The Young Turks has raised $20 million in venture capital funding and plans to double its staff
Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for The Young Turks
Led by 3L Capital, Greycroft, e.ventures, and business executive and Democratic Party kingmaker Jeffrey Katzenberg's WndrCo. will invest $20 million in the progressive media company, which has been livestreaming hours of video content with a progressive perspective for over a decade.
"We've got the content side figured out pretty well, ranked number one in the news vertical in all the rankings, but its time to build out the rest of the business," co-founder and host Cenk Uygur said in an interview with Business Insider.
The Young Turks, which has been funded through advertising revenue, paid subscriptions, partnerships with VCs, and even crowd funding, plans to double the size of its newsroom and business operations to about 200 people.
Uygur said the company will focus much of the investment on filling out TYT's backend tech and sales needs, while 3L Capital's Shawn Colo also told Business Insider that the funding is partially billed toward helping TYT expand its creative marketing offerings, including live events.
With many media companies offering "skinny bundles" of television channels offered as online-only broadcast networks, Uygur and Colo both see the moment as an opportunity for TYT to finally compete directly with traditional media companies and cable networks.
"We already are top three on Pluto and Comcast's Watchable, and we're very excited about the skinny bundles," Uyger said. "It's going to be a very productive place for growth and to be able to compete head-to-head with the TV players."
The Young Turks have grown significantly since launching on YouTube in 2005, racking up 3.4 million subscribers, which Colo described as highly engaged, and which investors viewed as attractive at a time when many digital media companies are fighting for readers' attention.
The network hit its stride during the 2016 Democratic primary, throwing its full support behind Sen. Bernie Sanders during a moment when many left-leaning pundits, opinion columnists, and comedians were skeptical of the Vermont senator and his campaign platform.
Still, the announcement was met with some skepticism among many who have noted TYT's aggressive, at times obsessive coverage of money's influence on politics.
Uyger dismissed the argument, saying he was "greatly amused by the lack of reason" of his critics.
The TYT founder said the network would remain committed to removing big money from politics, and noted that he didn't see the investment as corrupting the network's political coverage or bent.
"Getting money into your company is a completely different concept, it has nothing to do with money in politics," Uyger said. "It's a preposterous statement. How could anyone ever build a company if they didn't have investments? It doesn't make any sense, I don't know how to address it when its not based on logic."
What was it Nomiki said? Follow the money. Left-Leaning Political Video Network The Young Turks Raises $20 Million https://t.co/akVGzqJS2h- Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) August 8, 2017
I hope they raised it in $27 increments, otherwise, it's shocking corruption. https://t.co/qLfOjR9KkX- Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) August 8, 2017
Beholden to No Corporate Interests Except The Good People At 3L Capital https://t.co/ZbkEe5HKp5- Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) August 8, 2017
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