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Essence Magazine’s Owners to Acquire Dying Black-Owned Media, Refinery29

Essence Magazine’s Owners to Acquire Dying Black-Owned Media, Refinery29

Essence Ventures LLC, the parent company of Essence Magazine, is reportedly in negotiations to acquire digital media platform Refinery29, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. This move could significantly enhance Essence’s presence in the digital space, particularly among younger female audiences.

Strategic Expansion for Essence Magazine

Owned by Richelieu Dennis, who also co-founded Group Black, a media group that aims to bolster advertising spending with Black-owned media, Essence Ventures’ acquisition plan would not only expand its digital footprint but also potentially boost advertising revenue and provide a lifeline to Refinery29, which has faced financial challenges over the years.

Refinery29, acquired by Vice Media Group in 2019 for $400 million, has been a prominent player in digital media for millennial women since its inception in 2005. However, the platform experienced a $20 million revenue loss in 2022, attributed to reduced website traffic and advertising revenue.

Past Controversies

In 2020, Refinery29 faced allegations of racial discrimination. Black and Brown employees and freelancers called the platform out on social media. They highlighted issues such as pay disparities and racial discrimination, sparking a broader conversation about diversity and inclusion in the media industry.

Vice Media Group’s Financial Struggles

The potential acquisition news follows recent announcements from Refinery29’s parent company, Vice Media Group, about significant layoffs and the cessation of content publication on its website.

Vice, once a thriving media conglomerate, filed for bankruptcy in May 2023 and was subsequently acquired by Fortress Investment Group, one of its lenders. With the discontinuation of online publication, Fortress is shifting its focus to Vice’s other ventures, including a TV network, production studio, and advertising agency, Virtue.

Implications for the Media Landscape

The potential acquisition of Refinery29 by Essence Ventures could mark a pivotal moment in the media landscape, highlighting the ongoing shifts in digital media consumption and the importance of diversity and representation in the industry.

As negotiations continue, the media community will be watching closely to see how this deal could reshape the digital media space and reinforce Essence Magazine’s commitment to serving its audience.

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