A popular but niche technology and science outlet has become the latest website to be scooped up by a venture equity-backed media company quickly becoming a significant player in the digital space.
Recurrent Ventures is set to announce later on Monday that it has finalized a deal to purchase Futurism, the tech and culture-focused news site previously owned by Singularity University, a Google and Deloitte-backed technology business.
The purchase of Futurism marks the latest acquisition for Recurrent Ventures, which has quickly assembled a portfolio of well-liked but small, primarily digital media brands. Over the past several years, the venture equity-backed company has purchased 18 media brands including Popular Science, Saveur, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, and The Drive, among others.
Last month, Recurrent raised its profile by announcing it had acquired MEL, the men’s lifestyle publication previously backed by Dollar Shave Club that had become a cult favorite for its irreverent culture and lifestyle writing. A number of media organizations were interested in acquiring the site when Dollar Shave Club announced it would wind down its funding of MEL. In an interview with Axios last month, MEL’s editor-in-chief Josh Schollmeyer said he was impressed by the collaboration between the site’s leaders and the venture capital firm, noting that editors from other Recurrent-owned publications encouraged the company to buy MEL.
The purchase of both Futurism and MEL in less than a month demonstrate the firm’s growing ambitions in the digital media world. In an email, Recurrent CEO Lance Johnson said his company is looking to continue acquiring media brands in the coming months.
“We would like to make a few more acquisitions this year that would either add to our existing range of topics or allow us to branch into new ones (like we did with MEL),” he said in an email. “It just depends on the brands and the potential we see in them, as well as how they could fit within our portfolio and growth strategy.”
Futurism is a small but slick online publication that primarily focuses on science, technology, and culture. The site went viral earlier this year after it noticed that The New York Times had accidentally published an article claiming that watermelons were found on Mars (the Times was testing its publishing CMS when it accidentally set the piece live). Over the past year, it has interviewed the head of NASA, reported on the lab-leak theory, and investigated how gene-hacked mosquitoes terrorized a Florida community.
In an email, Futurism publisher James Del said the site began looking for a new owner when, just two years after buying the site, “Singularity University’s business model changed.” He said he was impressed by Recurrent’s track record of growing their other media properties without sacrificing editorial quality, and noted that “they bought the site everyone wanted to buy” in their latest purchase of MEL.
Jon Christian, the site’s managing editor, said the most recent sale will help the site scale up and get more aggressive in its approach to tech and science coverage.
"We're gonna be expanding the repertoire. We're going to loosen the collar, be a little less risk-averse in terms of voice, in terms of finding new audiences, in terms of broadening the editorial perspective," he said.