Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Disney Acquires “Sophisticated” Mommy Blog Platform Babble Media

Disney, which has been busy reorganizing its interactive group, is buying Babble Media, a New York-based parenting platform that features several hundred mom bloggers.

The entertainment giant declined to provide the purchase price for the New York-based start-up, which was founded by aiming at urban hipster parents and has garnered more than $6 million in funding since it was spun off from Nerve Media several years ago.

Babble’s venture investors include Greycroft Partners, Village Ventures and iNovia Capital.

Co-founders Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman and the rest of the 40-person Babble staff will join the Disney Interactive Media Group unit as part of its Moms and Family portfolio, Disney said in its official press release (see below).

Disney described Babble as the “premier blogging platform for a new generation of connected parents.” To me, that roughly translates into Brooklyn-living, Bugaboo-pushing, organic arugula-eating, yoga-calm moms and sensitive New Age dads.

But don’t take my word for it — today’s front page features on Babble include “15 Vegan Recipes for Thanksgiving” and “Is It Selfish to Have One Child?” (Yum and kinda!)

The next obvious stop for its audience, after the kids get a little bigger: Gwyneth Paltrow’s fabulously twee and irksomely addictive GOOP.

But Brooke Chaffin, who is SVP of Moms and Family in the Disney Interactive Media Group, said in an interview that the highly interactive content site with a definite “sophisticated” editorial voice has become mainstream, and is actually where the whole category is going.

“Babble is sharing the experience and stories on a daily basis through the parents lens,” she said. “And it brings in a blog network that is so important to this audience, because it’s by, for and about parents, and that’s far more important for them than experts.”

There will be that, too, said Chaffin, who noted the site has grown 100 percent year over year. It is now up to four million unique monthly visitors.

Disney plans to add its more evergreen family-focused content to Babble, to give it more heft to compete with other similar parenting sites, such as Johnson & Johnson-owned BabyCenter, NBC’s iVillage, Parents.com and CafeMom.

Interestingly, Disney had taken a gander at buying CafeMom a while back.

Chaffin, who came to Disney earlier this year after a stint at Auditude and a long time at Yahoo, said Babble has carved out a unique niche in combining content with social — the current gold ring for a lot of publishers.

“What Babble is doing is best of breed … it is just a different approach to blogging,” she said. “It felt like we at Disney are about storytelling and Babble does an amazing job doing just that.”

Added Jimmy Pitaro, co-President of Disney Interactive Media Group: “Disney has a long legacy of storytelling, and no mom-blog platform empowers storytelling better or more powerfully than Babble. Babble is a strategic complement to our Moms and Family portfolio of sites, which together make up a business that is critical to Disney Interactive’s mission of delivering world-class products and content and growing engagement among our guests.”

In other words: Mainstream and hipster!

Here’s the Disney official press release:

THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY ACQUIRES LEADING ONLINE PARENTING PLATFORM BABBLE MEDIA, INC.

Burbank, California — November 14, 2011 — The Walt Disney Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary Disney Online, has acquired Babble Media, Inc., a leading online parenting platform featuring more than 200 influential mom bloggers. The acquisition of Babble further strengthens the position of Disney Interactive Media Group’s Moms and Family portfolio as a leading online resource for moms and families.

Disney Interactive’s Moms and Family portfolio is a trusted resource for parents today, giving them the online tools and information they need and the ability to share their experiences. Through the acquisition of Babble, Disney Interactive’s Moms and Family business gains a blogging platform that elevates the first-person stories of parenthood.

Since its inception in 2006, Babble has become one of the most celebrated parenting sites on the web, named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Websites of 2010 and by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Websites for Women. Its stable of bloggers contribute daily to parenting topics including pregnancy, child care, health, food, family activities as well as lifestyle topics such as home, fashion and family products. As the premier blogging platform for a new generation of connected parents, Babble has created a vibrant community of parents who support, encourage and celebrate the highs and lows of raising children.

Babble attracts a broad and engaged audience with its nearly constant stream of posts, written for and by moms. Disney Interactive will infuse its Moms and Family evergreen content into Babble, thereby enriching the Babble user experience and extending the best of what Disney has to offer to today’s parents.

“Parents’ relationships with Disney are founded in stories, and Disney’s best stories are about families. We believe that Babble and Disney can harness the power of storytelling to inform, entertain and empower parents everywhere,” said Brooke Chaffin, SVP of Moms and Family, Disney Interactive Media Group. “With more than 3.9 million mom blogs in the US alone, Disney Interactive recognizes and values the important and powerful role moms have taken on in new media.”

“We can’t imagine a better next step than joining the world’s leading media company for families, The Walt Disney Company, and look forward to bringing together Babble’s resonant voice and community with Disney’s expansive family audience, wide range of content and multi-media platform,” said Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, Co-Founders of Babble.

Babble will remain headquartered in New York. Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman will join the Disney Interactive Media Group.


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