6AM City, the fastest growing newsletter-first local media company will more than triple in size in the second half of 2021, expanding from eight to 24 cities, and continuing 300% YOY consumer acquisition growth, scaling from 300,000 to one million subscribers and climbing.
6AM City’s rapid growth is fueled by an investment led by the private investment office of Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, with additional funds coming from media executives including a team led by Rohit Agarwal, Chief Product Officer at CNN, and separately, Jerry Scott, former publisher of Scott Publishing. 6AM City’s existing investors VentureSouth and Harbright Ventures also participated in the round.
“This investment in 6AM City is the latest evolution for our civically minded partners to support access to high quality local news across the country,” said 6AM City CEO Ryan Johnston. “6AM City has positioned itself as a catalyst to drive economic impact and to help municipalities attract and retain the very best talent. Emerging from the pandemic, cities across the country are intensely focused on economic recovery and future growth. This injection of capital will ensure that 6AM City can effectively support and serve these rapidly growing cities.”
“Local media has and always will be critical to communities. The team at 6AM City has built an outstanding business focused on serving readers in cities and towns across the country. I couldn’t be more excited to help accelerate their expansion into new markets,” noted Jeff Vinik.
6AM City accelerates expansion into 24 markets by Thanksgiving — including five metros on the West Coast, three in Texas, and several in the Midwest, adding to eight existing markets across the Southeast. Say hello to:
- Austin, TX (ATXtoday)
- Boston, MA (BOStoday)
- Columbus, OH (CBUStoday)
- Fort Worth, TX (FTWtoday)
- Indianapolis, IN (INDYtoday)
- Kansas City, MO (KCtoday)
- Lexington, KY (LEXtoday)
- Louisville, KY (LOUtoday)
- Madison, WI (608today)
- Portland, OR (PDXtoday)
- Richmond, VA (RICtoday)
- Sacramento, CA (SACtoday)
- San Antonio, TX (SATXtoday)
- San Diego, CA (SDtoday)
- San Jose, CA (SJCtoday)
- Seattle, WA (SEAtoday)
These cities were identified as expansion markets for 6AM City because of their level of Pride in Place™. “One year ago today, it would have been easy to label us as a local media company serving cities in the southeastern United States,” said Michael Mazzara, VP of Expansion. “At the time we launched a PickMyCity campaign receiving requests from all over the country. Combining that national interest with hundreds of hours of research on population growth, thriving community efforts, and Pride in Place™ metrics, we found these next cities to be some of the strongest in the country. City expansion is a mix of art and science.”
In prospective markets, 6AM City has established partnerships with organizations looking to expedite economic recovery, including economic development entities, professional sports teams, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. These relationships are accelerating the company’s expansion.
In each city, 6AM City is actively hiring local editorial and sales staff that will exude CurioCity™, maximizing the live, work, and play environment in which they will be immersed. While many local media companies are struggling to retain talent, 6AM City continues to be on a hiring surge. The company currently has 30+ open positions in editorial, sales, marketing, and creative roles that can be located in any of the cities that the company serves. These hires will increase headcount from 35 employees at the beginning of 2021, to an excess of 100 by the end of the year.
In addition to market expansion and growing the team, 6AM City will launch three new product innovations in the fourth quarter – including a loyalty-based membership platform, a referral program that will be game changing for subscriber acquisition, and a local commerce platform designed to drive economic impact in the cities the company serves.
“6AM City has clearly established unit economics that make geographic expansion an obvious path forward. I’m most excited about the upcoming product developments that will drive exponential customer growth, engagement and profitability,” noted Rohit Agarwal.
“We have been laser focused on initiatives that intersect content, commerce, and community and believe that the product innovations we are deploying will establish 6AM City as a sustainable product-led growth company in the local media space,” said 6AM City COO Ryan Heafy. “Our non-traditional business model allows us the entrepreneurial flexibility to rapidly develop, test, and deploy product innovations that will identify sustainable revenue models that can be replicated to support the future of any local media company.”