Digital media companies Group Nine and Refinery29 are planning to merge, three close people aware of this news revealed. As most of the digital ad share is going to Google and Facebook, so a lot of venture-funded digital media companies are planning to merge. Such speculations are in new since the last few months. However, there is no clear message from the heads of both the companies namely, Group Nine and Refinery. Even the heads of both the companies said earlier this year that they only believe in the acquisition.
Although a lot of companies are planning to merge, which is not an easy task. Any type of merger involves a lot of challenges which both the merger companies need to tackle. Similar to this, the merger between Group Nine and Refinery doesn’t seem to come in the near future. Both companies need to understand the values of each other before coming together to make their merger successful. However, in the case of these two companies, investors namely, Discovery and Turner have to agree on terms as both of these backed Group Nine and Refinery.
As the two companies belong to different cultures so it is hard to combine and if it happens, then it would be a challenging task. One of the possibilities that experienced media mergers and acquisitions suggests is that both the companies could combine in a stock deal without changing money from one hand to another. However, if this merger happens, the chances for the growth of both companies would increase manifold. There is a huge demand for digital media and hence the responsibility for digital footprint also resides on the shoulders of both the companies. Reacting to this merger news, both Group Nine and Refinery representative said they have not decided anything about the merger. They said they are discussing the opportunities to merge with their peers.
The nature of the two companies, Group Nine and Refinery29 are the same, as the two make videos for the audience. Out of the two, Group Nine makes more profit, although the industry watchers don’t consider this fact. The relation between the two companies is on the grounds of links between investors. Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer joins the team of Lerer Hippaeu, which has made an investment in Refinery.
Group Nine, which is a product of Nowthis, The Dodo, Thrillist, and Seeker. It got started due to the $100 mn investment of Discovery Communications and post this, discovery continued to invest more money into it. In order to diversify, it is planning to sell its video studio output and branching out to e-commerce. On the other hand, 2005 founded company, Refinery is a women’s lifestyle publisher. Refinery gets its revenue from advertising and organizing other events. The company is planning to increase its profitability by expanding its live events and selling high-quality video for streaming services globally.
The companies are talking about a merger because these venture-backed digital media are not getting enough money out of their business and hence their profitability is not very high. One way to get profit is to get cheap distribution on Facebook. But Facebook has refused to allow free distribution and the major part of advertising is going into the hands of Facebook and Google. Hence, companies are only left with the option of mergers so that they could remove redundant staff to increase their profitability.
The Perfect Investment: RAD Diversified and Income-Producing Farms
Amidst the global lockdown of 2020, Dutch Mendenhall, founder of RADD America, began looking for an alternative to standard residential real-estate investments. So, he turned his analysis to farms and was blown away by the immense potential he saw. After going public in late 2019, RADD America purchased US farmland and made slices of the real estate available at minimum investments of $10,000.
Income-producing farms vs. other real estate asset classes
According to Mendenhall, an apartment complex in today’s US real estate market commands approximately a 4% or 5% cap rate. Farms offer somewhere around a 15% to 20% cap rate.
“When I first began looking at investing in farms, I compared each acre to an apartment or housing unit,” Mendenhall recalls. “The variety that income-producing farms provide is what I really love about them as an opportunity. With one season producing wheat and corn the next, you can double tap — you can raise livestock on top of agriculture. Putting money into the farm only pays off in time. Everything from improving soil to increasing irrigation makes a major impact on potential income, and so much of America’s farmland has fallen into disrepair during the last 20 years.”
When Mendenhall began investing during the early days of the pandemic, sustainable acres of producing farmland sold anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000. Today, he finds that income-producing acres of farmland easily sell for $9,500 to $10,000.
“I’ve seen farmland values almost double during the last couple of years,” Mendenhall says. “Currently, we’re in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Idaho, but we are analyzing land all over America. What reports don’t show is the difference between a properly maintained acre of farmland and an acre that is in disarray. There’s only so much workable farmland on the market today. We’ve hit the tipping point, and now, there’s a scarcity of land for people to buy. If you have the opportunity to purchase amazing agricultural land, you have to pull the trigger quickly.”
Income-producing farms as an asset class
Mendenhall is no stranger to investors. Since 2006, he’s connected them to deals in short sales, wholesaling, residential properties, and storage units, though he admits that every asset class has caused the same excitement as farmland. “At this point, we can’t find enough bargains for our investors,” he says. “They take real pride in their investments and keep asking us for more.”
RADD America takes a true grassroots approach when connecting its investors to farmland. “The farming world is different from any other in real estate,” explains Mendenhall. “We start by having our acquisitions and agricultural teams meet with farmers. When we get ready to brand cattle or plant, all the local farmers come and help. In the same spirit, our teams go out and help the local farmers when it’s their turn to brand and plant. To do it right, you have to build a relationship and a connection that’s quite different than other types of investing.”
RADD America is composed of expert investors and expert farmers. The company offers its investments through fractionalized ownership. In other words, the company purchases one farm and then allows a joint pool of investors to own it together.
“If you don’t have a team that knows how to farm and maximize income, you’re not going to get the best possible return for investors,” warns Mendenhall. “Thankfully, our team isn’t so big for this type of investing that we forget who we are, and we have the economy to scale at a great pace.”
The impact of global competition on income-producing farm investments
RADD America closely monitors global trends. In Mendenhall’s experience, investors win when they move before the market. However, when they move after the market, they lose.
“When Russian first invaded and sparked its war with Ukraine, for example, we kept a close eye on its global impact,” he says. “As one of the largest producers of wheat in the world, we knew that Ukraine — now in the midst of a war — wasn’t going to be able to produce wheat at the same scale, so someone else needs to step in and fill the gap. We’re constantly monitoring what’s happening in the world to stay on top of evolving trends.”
In terms of global competition, Mendenhall is frustrated by foreign entities staking ownership of American farmland and agriculture. In this area, China has positioned itself as the number one threat to the sovereignty of the United States.
“When foreign powers have ownership of agricultural land in the US, it puts us all at risk as Americans,” remarks Mendenhall. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen soil quality erode, closures of meatpacking plants, and numerous fires. The likelihood of nuclear war in this age is very small. The quiet war of buying American agriculture and unsettling the American dollar is the threat we face today.”
Clearly, RADD America has a lot to pay attention to at home and abroad. “We’re monitoring weather patterns and making one-year, three-year, and five-year predictions,” Mendenhall explains. “We’re also paying close attention to interest rates to see where this shifting economy is headed. The up-and-down cycles are faster than they’ve ever been. Monitoring the industry is critical. With expert investors and agricultural specialists from RADD America on your team, farmland can be one of your most promising and rewarding investment opportunities.”
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