Warner Music acquires media start-up IMGN for ‘just under $100m’

18 Aug 2020

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Warner Music said the acquisition of IMGN Media will help it generate new revenue opportunities and provide insights into social media trends.

Recording giant Warner Music has acquired a Tel Aviv and New York-based start-up called IMGN Media, which builds and tracks viral content on social media in the areas of ASMR, entertainment, e-sports and gaming.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TechCrunch reports that the deal was done for just under $100m.

Warner Music, which is valued at around $15bn, represents such artists as Ed Sheeran and Madonna and owns the Atlantic and Elektra labels. The company said its new acquisition would add a “proven creative business” to its portfolio, generating additional revenue opportunities and providing insights into social media trends.

IMGN Media, previously Comedy.com, was founded in 2015. According to its website, its brands have more than 3bn views each month and 40m subscribers.

IMGN focuses on shareable social media content, including memes and short video, with channels across such platforms as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Its Daquan meme account has around 6.8m subscribers on TikTok and more than 15m on Instagram.

The company’s technology is driven by AI, which it says allows it to “enable social content publishing at scale”. According to Crunchbase, the start-up has raised $6m to date from investors including UTA Ventures, Ron Zuckerman and Rhodium.

Snap was reportedly looking at acquiring IMGN for $180m, while TikTok may have been considering a $150m takeover, according to TechCrunch sources.

Warner Music said IMGN Media will continue to be run by its co-founder and CEO Barak Shragai as a “stand-alone entity with journalistic autonomy”.

Warner had been a customer of IMGN, which will continue to work with other brands after the deal. Past clients include Burger King and Microsoft.

Speaking about the acquisition, Shragai said: “Warner Music not only offers us greater investment and support, but an entrepreneurial environment to continue growing our business with the people running our accounts having editorial independence.”

The deal isn’t the first acquisition Warner Music has made in this area. In 2018, it took over pop culture news site Uproxx. Like the IMGN deal, Warner gave Uproxx editorial independence, led by CEO Benjamin Blank.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021