Apple is buying Texture, a digital magazine subscription service which gives readers access to magazines for a monthly subscription fee.
Texture, dubbed as known as the “Netflix of magazine publishing”, charges users US$9.99 a month for unlimited access to over 200 magazines such as The New Yorker, People, Time and GQ on their mobile devices.
Financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, and Texture has never disclosed its valuation.
Texture, formerly known as Next Issue, was founded in 2009. Before it rebranded in 2015, it was a joint venture by Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc., which founded the app and Next Issue Media as an effort to monetize digital media, the Verge reports.
According to TechCrunch, the company appears to have raised at least US$90 million, of which US$40 million came from the publishers and US$50 million from private equity giant KKR. Other investors include BuzzFeed, Vox Media, and Imgur.
Texture did not announce the number of its paying subscribers, but an article in 2014 estimated it had 150,000 users at the time. In 2016, Texture chief executive John Loughlin told the New York Post that it had “several hundreds of thousands” of revenue subscribers and expected a 50 percent growth in the coming year.
When asked if the app is cannibalizing existing magazine subscribers, Loughlin said the service is expanding the publishing market, with only about 20 percent of Texture’s subscribers dropping print in favor of the digital service. He also disclosed that the company paid US$15 million in subscription revenue to publishers in 2015.
Also in 2015, Texture had an annual revenue “in excess of US$20 million”, Loughlin said.
Apple is acquiring the whole company of Next Issue Media including employees, with the deal expected to close soon, TechCrunch said. Texture will continue to operate independently, offering apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire and Windows 8 and 10.
Apple already delivers curated news from third-party publishers through its Apple News platform. Moments after Apple announced the deal, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for internet software and services, said Apple News was introduced with the goal of bringing great content in a beautiful layout from trusted sources, and Apple plans to integrate Texture content into Apple News, according to Apple news website 9to5mac.
In an online statement about the deal, Cue said: “We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 14
Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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