Warner Music, one of the largest entertainment companies and record labels that the U.S. has to offer, announced over the weekend the purchase of Israeli startup IMGN Media, a data-backed, smart content distributor on social media. The full sum of the buyout has yet to be published, but rumored to be “under $100 million”.
When one of the biggest labels in the world wants a viral boost
IMGN Media, which was founded in 2015 and is based out of NYC and Tel Aviv, originally started as Comedy.com. In 2017, the company moved from making strictly comical content to creating a wide array of viral content aimed at captivating Millenials and Gen Zers, while also analyzing content consumption and creating valuable viral insight. To date, IMGN Media has raised $6 million from Angel investors and VC funds such as Rhodium, NEXTP, and Surround Ventures (formerly Sababa Ventures). Based on company reports, IMGN’s viral content receives over 3 billion views per month that stem partly from the company’s impressive 40 million subscribers.
According to TechCrunch, before Warner Music stepped up, Chinese company ByteDance, which brought the global sensation TikTok to life, was on the verge of triggering a $150 million purchase of the Israeli content firm. However, the deal never came to fruition, leaving IMGN Media with a far inferior offer. Considering the current backlash that the Chinese giant is facing due to the ongoing battle with the Trump administration, it’s only feasible that the geo-politics game affected the potential mega-deal.
From customer to owner
Based on the purchase report, IMGN Media will continue to operate as an independent content charter within the Warner Music ecosystem and will continue analyzing content over a broad spectrum of platforms - IMGN Media CEO Barak Sharagai will continue to operate as CEO under the Warner umbrella.
Warner, which until recently was an IMGN Media customer, isn’t planning on using the Israeli startup for strictly creating and uploading tailor-made content aimed at promoting Warner signed artists. Moreover, the American music giant will focus the Israeli company’s efforts in providing deep data-backed insight regarding Warner's viral content, as well as using IMGN’s data-driven approach to improve marketing efforts by analyzing what content people actually want to consume.
Alongside providing Warner with valuable insight, IMGN Media will continue to support the company’s rich list of leading customers that have seen brand giants like EA, Microsoft, and Burger King walk through the doors. The Israeli startup previously partnered with Microsoft to produce content linked to Mixer, the software giant’s gamer streaming service, which closed down last month.
IMGN CEO Barak Shragai commented on the deal, saying “Warner doesn’t just offer support and financial backing, but an entrepreneurial environment, where we can grow.” Furthermore, Sharagai notes that even after the acquisition, account managers running the company’s original content will have full independence editing the intended uploaded content.