(Bloomberg) -- Former CNN chief Jeff Zucker is buying a minority stake in Front Office Sports, injecting capital that the publication will use to accelerate its expansion beyond a popular daily newsletter.
Zucker will serve as co-chairman of the board alongside Jason Stein, whose private equity firm SC Holdings was the company’s first investor. The deal values Front Office Sports at about $40 million, up from $25 million at the end of 2021, according to a person familiar with the terms who asked not to be identified discussing information that hasn’t been made public.
Zucker and Adam White, the co-founder of Front Office Sports, declined to comment on the size of the investment or the company’s valuation.
Zucker’s stake buys out Crain Communications Inc., the business media company that had acquired 20% of Front Office Sports last year. He’s also buying shares from SC Holdings. Zucker’s Redbird IMI and SC Holdings will own equal minority stakes in Front Office Sports, while employees hold the rest.
White and Russell Wilde created Front Office Sports in their dorm room at the University of Miami and have since built it into a newsroom with more than 40 employees writing about everything from professional golf to Taylor Swift’s impact on football. Its main newsletter, which publishes twice a day, has more than 800,000 subscribers.
The newsletter, which could serve as the foundation for a news outlet that writes about sports business and culture for a global audience, targets a more mainstream reader than industry trade outlets like the Sports Business Journal. The company plans to use the new capital to hire more reporters, restart a live-events business and increase its investment in original video.
“The key is to expand the newsroom and the journalism,” Zucker said in an interview.
The outlet, he said, wants to become a “real leader in the coverage of the business of sports, especially at a time where places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have backed off of that a little.”
Front Office Sports wasn’t looking to raise money after receiving an investment from Crain a year ago. That changed when Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, introduced White to Zucker, who then met Stein on a flight to the Caribbean.
This is Zucker’s third investment since starting RedBird IMI, which is backed by Redbird Capital Partners LLC and the United Arab Emirates-based International Media Investments. He’s also invested in Hidden Pigeon Company, which was started by author Mo Willems.
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