Media giant Condé Nast announced this week that they have acquired online recipe box and shopping list tool ZipList for an undisclosed amount. ZipList, which has over 1.2 million members, wouldn’t comment on the terms of the deal, but AllThingsD is reporting that the price tag was $14 million.
The company, which launched in 2010 and debuted a redesigned site in September 2011, has raised $4.5 million to date, from investors including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, also one of their launch partners. Founder Geoff Allen said the company started talking to Condé Nast in late 2011 about a partnership. ”A lot of people initially thought that a media company wouldn’t be a natural fit,” Allen said in an interview, but he said he found that Condé Nast valued the company for what it was, rather than trying to make it one of their traditional brands. “That’s kind of a unique perspective.”
ZipList already has over 135 strategic partners, including AOL’s KitchenDaily.com and several Martha Stewart properties. Allen said the acquisition is “no different than if we had signed Condé Nast as a partner,” though now they have the media giant’s resources behind them. “We’re going to be accelerating our growth,” Allen said, and “accelerating our partner products.”
Condé Nast already has several food-focused properties, including online recipe site Epicurious, print and digital food magazine Bon Appétit and website Gourmet Live, all of which are now ZipList clients (prior to the acquisition, ZipList hadn’t partnered with any of their brands). ZipList’s functionality will be available across Condé Nast food brands to give consumers access to the company’s digital recipe and shopping list network.
As for partnerships with other media properties, Allen said the acquisition won’t stop them from signing up other partners outside of the Condé Nast banner. “They’re a leading food brand, and there are lots of other ones out there that we need to talk to,” he said. In total Condé Nast publishes 22 magazines, 27 websites and more than 50 mobile apps. The magazine publisher echoed Allen’s claim that ZipList will continue to operate as a separate brand in a press release announcing the deal.
ZipList allows users to save recipes from anywhere on the web to a central recipe box, using the website, Android app or iPhone apps, and create shopping lists. They also offer partner tools to media, lifestyle, grocery, retail and consumer packaged goods properties to integrate shopping lists and recipe box features into their own websites and mobile apps. The site offers a plug-in for websites who want to allow vistiors to save recipes and create shopping lists on ZipList, and currently over 6,500 food partner sites and blogs such as Simply Recipes and Skinnytaste.com have installed it.
ZipList’s head office will remain in Virginia, though several NYC-based employees will move to the Condé Nast offices, and the site will retain all of its current functionality. Allen said the acquisition also means that the company will look to do more ad sales. “We’ll certainly be able to get the benefit of working with Condé Nast and the reach of their advertising relationships,” he said.
With traditional media companies looking for ways to boost their digital revenue and offerings, it makes sense for Condé Nast to acquire ZipList, especially because they are basically becoming one of the company’s biggest customers through their food brands with the new brand partnerships announced alongside the acquisition. And for ZipList, which has the green light to pursue partners outside of the Condé Nast banner, it means they get built-in clients and still have the potential for growth with external partnerships.