Australia’s Vinyl Group Acquires Rolling Stone & Variety Australia Publisher The Brag Media

Vinyl Group Australia
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Vinyl Group Australia
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Photo Credit: Vinyl Group

Australia’s Vinyl Group has acquired Rolling Stone and Variety’s Australian publisher, The Brag Media, following a second round of investment from WiseTech Global’s Richard White.

Vinyl Group, the only music company listed on the Australian stock exchange (ASX:VNL), has announced entering into an agreement to fully acquire Australia’s The Brag Media, publisher of Rolling Stone and Variety in Australia and New Zealand. The group also announced a second round of investment by WiseTech Global CEO and Founder, Richard White, with an $11 million placement and debt facility.

The Brag Media publishes its owned outlets, TheBrag.com, The Music Network, and Tone Deaf, as well as Penske Media Corporation (PMC) outlets Rolling Stone and Variety in Australia and New Zealand.

It also exclusively represents local digital audiences for over a dozen other titles, such as HypeBeast, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Music Feeds, ComingSoon, Rotten Tomatoes, Game Revolution, and IndieWire. The Brag Media’s network of brands reaches around ten million users each month in the region, with over 40 million monthly page views.

Vinyl Group will pay $8 million in cash to acquire 100% of The Brag Media and its subsidiaries, with another $2 million payable in cash or stock based on financial performance. Unaudited Financial Year 2023 results report The Brag Media generated $8.39 million in revenues, including $334,824 in net profit. In all, it has seen an average revenue growth of 125% over the past two financial years.

The purchase will be funded with a new $11 million placement and debt facility from Vinyl Group investor Richard White, created to fuel the company’s future growth. That investment will be made from his RealWise Group Holdings P&L, and follows his previously announced investment in June.

As part of the deal, The Brag Media CEO Luke Girgis has entered into a full-time employment agreement with the company, as Publisher and Managing Director of The Brag Media. Girgis will receive five million options upon sale completion, vesting in two equal tranches. The first tranche vests upon achieving certain revenue and EBIT targets for 2024 and a minimum of one year of employment post-sale. The second will vest on the second anniversary of the sale completion.

“The next phase in the evolution of The Brag Media will take place under the umbrella of Australia’s only ASX-listed music business, and I couldn’t be happier about it,” said Girgis. “Right from the earliest discussions we had, it was clear that the Board, Josh, and the team shared our vision for the future of the business, and I’m thrilled that they’ve made this commitment with us.”

“I’d also like to acknowledge my co-founder and Managing Director, Sam Benjamin. This business would not have reached the heights that it has without Sam’s investment, support, leadership, and mentorship over the past six years.”

“Vinyl Group’s suite of products work together to empower participants of the music ecosystem and reach all corner of the creator economy, and we can’t wait to start working with the iconic mastheads that Luke and The Brag Media have successfully developed in Australia,” adds Vinyl Group CEO Josh Simons.

“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.”

“I have watched closely as Josh has built Vinyl Group’s revenue and made substantial business gains since taking my 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,” concludes Richard White, CEO and Founder of WiseTech Global.

“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.”