Kara Swisher

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Sweeet!: Sugar Gets $15 Million More in New Funding From IVP and Sequoia

Sassy women-focused content site, Sugar Inc., has raised another $15 million in late-stage venture funding from new investor Institutional Venture Partners, as well as its original one, Sequoia Capital.

The San Francisco-based site, which has now raised a total of $46 million, said it would “use the funds for brand extensions, acquisitions, and international growth…”

Sugar, which runs the flagship PopSugar.com site, is in a media space that is both competitive and fast-growing.

Several bigger sites, such as Yahoo, have been interested in acquiring it, but its husband-and-wife co-founders Brian and Lisa Sugar have wanted to remain independent.

In 2009, the company broke off ties with NBC Universal by buying back its shares and got a Series C funding of $16 million from Sequoia.

Sequoia was an earlier venture investor, having put $5 million into the start-up in late 2006.

NBC invested $10 million in 2007. The media giant had been selling online advertising for the site, an arrangement that had previously ended.

Onward and upward, apparently!

Here’s the official press release:

Sugar Inc. Closes Investment from Institutional Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital

San Francisco, CA, April 13, 2011–Sugar Inc., a fast-growing global media company for women, announced today that it has completed a $15 million later-stage round of financing led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), one of the premier later-stage venture capital and growth equity firms. The Company’s original and consistent partner Sequoia Capital also participated in the round.

Sugar intends to use the funds for brand extensions, acquisitions, and international growth in pursuit of its goal of becoming the world’s largest media company focusing exclusively on women’s lifestyle. This round brings Sugar’s total funding to $46 million.

Sugar is the online leader in original content, social media, and commerce targeting trendsetting women, with a global audience of more than 20 million. The company has two business segments focusing on original content and commerce with a portfolio of brands including PopSugar.com, ShopStyle.com, PopSugarCity.com, and Fashionologie.com. Sugar has 190 employees and operations in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia.

“On the eve of our five-year anniversary, Lisa and I are proud of the success and rapid growth we have demonstrated to date,” said Brian Sugar, founder and CEO of Sugar. “In the last year we achieved significant milestones, including growing our audience to over 20 million unique visitors per month, driving over $250 million in commerce to our partners, and reaching profitability for the full year. We are excited with the opportunities ahead of us as we continue to pioneer the combination of content and commerce.”

“Sugar is led by an outstanding management team that has driven impressive growth in a diverse set of complementary revenue streams,” said Dennis Phelps, General Partner of IVP. “We see an enormous market opportunity and are excited about Sugar’s ability to execute in a world of slower-moving incumbents.”

“Brian and Lisa Sugar are entertaining a new generation of women. They do so around the clock and on hundreds of millions of mobile and web devices. But Sugar Inc. is still at the beginning of what is possible,” said Michael Moritz, General Partner of Sequoia.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work