Political online news network The Young Turks closes $20m in funding

8 Aug 2017

The Young Turks founder and CEO, Cenk Uygur, outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin in 2014. Image: Colm Gorey

In the climate of a Donald Trump presidency, online left-leaning political news network The Young Turks has convinced investors to significantly fund its operation.

Online news sites now rival traditional news networks for the eyeballs of millennials, with YouTube’s algorithms showing billions of views each month for some of the largest channels.

Now, one of these channels – The Young Turks (TYT) – is set to expand, with the news that it has secured $20m in funding.

Future Human

The funding round was led by growth equity firm 3L Capital and included participation from Greycroft, E.ventures and WndrCo. The latter of the VC firms is headed by former Walt Disney Studios chair Jeffrey Katzenberg.

This news follows an announcement last December that TYT had secured $2m in crowdfunding to hire a team of four investigative journalists.

‘We’re just at the tip of the iceberg’

While initially founded in 2002 as a satellite radio channel, TYT was one of the first news networks to launch on YouTube during its first year of 2005, and has since grown to a channel of 200m views per month as well as having a presence on other platforms.

Co-founded and now led by journalist Cenk Uygur, the network is known for its left-progressive viewpoint and outright dislike of US president Donald Trump, going so far as to ban him from appearing on its network back in 2013 following accusations he made against Barack Obama and his place of birth.

TYT said it will use the investment to expand its roster of management and talent, as well as its range of content and community engagement.

“The past few years have been wildly successful for TYT, but we started to realise we’re just at the tip of the iceberg,” Uygur said.

“We’ve perfected news and commentary that appeals to the highly desirable, young, cord-cutting audience.”

Largest online news network

3L Capital co-founder and managing partner Shawn Colo is set to join the network’s board as a result and has praised TYT’s rise to prominence.

“TYT has done a tremendous job developing a deeply engaged millennial community, as evidenced by the size of its paid subscription membership and total watch time,” Colo said.

Recent statistics show it remains the highest-ranked independent news and politics channel on YouTube in terms of subscribers, with just under 3.4m accounts, behind YouTube’s own Spotlight channel.

Within its network, TYT has 30 different shows. These range from its main news show, to pop culture and review channels across dozens of platforms, both on social media and services such as Hulu.

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com back in 2014, Uygur was critical of the way mainstream media treats news online, saying he had refused to listen to people encouraging him to stay away from YouTube back in 2005.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic