F+W Media, Inc. Chairman & CEO David Nussbaum announced today the acquisition of Aspire Media LLC, parent company of Interweave, from private equity firms Frontenac Company and Catalyst Investors, and several members of the Interweave management team. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Walter Florence, a Managing Director of Frontenac Company, has joined the F+W Media Board of Directors, concurrent with the acquisition.
JEGI CLARITY of New York, NY, the leading independent investment bank for the media, information, marketing services, and technology sectors, represented Aspire Media in this transaction and acted as its exclusive financial advisor.
Interweave is a leading multiplatform print and digital art and craft enthusiast media company founded in 1975 and acquired by Aspire Media in 2005. Interweave owns and operates 33 websites; 10 online communities; 10 e-commerce stores; 11 consumer events; video workshops; 15 consumer art and craft magazines; more than 30 special newsstand publications; and 350 craft books. Interweave is also the sponsor of three craft television programs that air on public television.
“The Interweave strategy mirrors the strategy set in place for each of our vertical communities. To provide an expertly curated portfolio of quality content, products and services, marketed and sold direct to our comprehensive database of core enthusiasts, through our robust e-commerce stores,” said Mr. Nussbaum. In 2008, F+W Media established its first direct-to-consumer e-commerce store. Today, the Company owns and operates more than 20 e-commerce stores, centered on its enthusiast communities, and will add 10 more stores as a result of the acquisition. The Company’s consumer database, numbered in the millions, is now among the largest in the art and craft industry.
Clay Hall, Aspire Media’s and Interweave’s CEO for the past seven years, said, “I’m very proud of this team’s successful transformation of DIY (Do It Yourself) media for the digital age and am confident that F+W will build on their success.” In connection with F+W Media’s acquisition of Interweave, neither Mr. Hall nor Troy Wells, the company’s CFO, will remain with the Company.
Immediate plans for the Company include: an increased number of digital magazine/content launches through the popular Interweave digital newsstand; an expansion of the e-commerce, eBook, and digital pattern business; and an expansion of the live and online education and event business.
“F+W and Interweave are two like-minded, aligned media entities, with passionate employees who have the honor of serving our vertical enthusiast communities. We share a common mission and vision,” said Sara Domville, President, F+W Media. “And now with our combined strengths, F+W will offer our art and craft customers the most comprehensive information, inspiration, products and services available.” In February 2012, F+W completed the acquisition of The Martha Pullen Company, a leading e-commerce provider, event producer, and content company in the sewing category.
Added Mr. Nussbaum, “Interweave properties are leaders in their communities—there is a history of innovation, entrepreneurism, and proven success. We welcome the many talented and passionate Interweave employees to F+W to learn from one another and to be part of our larger, global community.”
According to the Craft and Hobby Association, nearly 66 million U.S. households identify at least one household member as a crafter; in total, U.S. crafters spend upwards of $30.6 billion annually on supplies. The resurgence of DIY/Crafting is evidenced through the popularity of Etsy.com and Pinterest, new cable television program launches, such as Craft Wars for TLC, and the impressive growth of Interweave’s online communities and digital content products.
We made the right choice in hiring JEGI CLARITY to advise us on the sale of Aspire Media. JEGI CLARITY brought market knowledge and insight along with excellent marketing, process and execution skills. JEGI CLARITY played the pivotal role in helping us get to a great outcome and the ideal buyer. The transaction was a win-win for all involved, and we look forward to working with JEGI CLARITY again on another assignment.
Walter Florence, Managing Director, Frontenac Company