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Larry Burke’s Mariah Media has sold his award-winning Outside magazine and Outside TV to a venture-backed rival that has been snapping up sports publications.
The acquiring company, Pocket Outdoor Media, plans to rename its company Outside, according to CEO Robin Thrusher. The deal includes Outside Integrated Media, which was wholly owned by Mariah and contains the magazine, website, podcasting operation and a licensed travel company as well as Outside TV.
The later was 10-percent owned by Mariah with other investors and includes a TV channel and video operations.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s one of five recent sports and fitness acquisitions made by Pocket Outdoor.
By the 1990s, Outside magazine, focused on travel, sports and fitness, emerged as one of the hottest magazines in the country, winning an unprecedented five consecutive National Magazine Awards for general excellence. Interest was fueled by writers like Jon Krakauer — whose 9,000-word article on the strange journey of a loner adventurer named Christopher McCandless who died in Alaska became the bestselling book “Into the Wild” — and Sebastian Junger, who penned an article published in 1994 that became the bestselling book “The Perfect Storm.” It was later a movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Burke, now 78, said he felt it was time to sell. “I’m in good health and I figured now is a good time to do all the things I’ve been advocating through my media operations over the years,” he told Media Ink.
He said he plans to go surfing with his wife in Coast Rica or skiing in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which he can see from his pueblo style offices in Santa Fe, NM., which were sold as part of the deal.
Burke and COO Angelo Gaziano are the only people exiting. Outside EIC Chris Keyes and the rest of the staff will transfer to the new company.
Burke launched Mariah back in 1976 and a year later found himself in competition with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. Wenner initially approached Burke in a bid to buy Burke’s Mariah magazine, but Burke said his company wasn’t for sale. Wenner instead went into business against him, launching Outside first as an insert in Rollng Stone and then with 11 issues in 1978 before running out of funding.
At that point, he offered to sell the Outside brand to Burke.
“I got a box of manuscripts and the circ[ulation] file,” recalled Burke. For the first year, Burke merged the titles and carried both names on the cover as Mariah Outside before deciding to use Mariah as the name of the company and Outside as the name of the magazine.
Thrusher said after the latest round of acquisitions, his company will have 450 employees and sales of about $150 million. “This is a transformational day for our company and our customers.”
Outside joins a stable of other sports and fitness titles Pocket Outdoor has built up via acquisitions over the last year, including Ski, Yoga Journal, Woman’s Running, Triathele, FinisherPix, Warren Miller Entertainment, Backpacker, Climbing, VeloNews, and Trail Runner and the recently acquired Peloton magazine.
Pocket Outdoor raised $150 million in a Series B round of funding from venture companies including Sequoia Heritage, Jazz Venture Partners, Zone 5 Ventures, Next Ventures, Cooley LLP and Progress Partners. “We’re going to pause our acquisitions and and invest and integrate the brands we have,” Thrusher told Media Ink.
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