Industry Dive is a narrative violation
By Adam Ryan
In early 2021, I was funemployed. I wanted to start a new venture, but I was torn on what I wanted to do. Going back into the media industry was the best move for my experience and skillset – but something was holding me back.
I was embarrassed to be in media.
The industry was facing massive headwinds. Companies that owned headlines, like Buzzfeed, were unprofitable and created a narrative that digital media was doomed. It made it difficult to get excited to jump back. I felt like I was voluntarily joining the Cleveland Browns… you just know it won’t be a good result.
Then, at some point in the midst of my tinkering, I remembered a keynote I heard in 2017 from a man that somehow appeared to be the most confident person in the room while also being the most humble.
He said to a room full of media executives, “Don’t worry about all the tricks; to win in media is simple: it’s an execution game.”
When Sean Griffey ended that keynote, he walked off the stage with a room full of operators in awe of his simplistic approach. In remembering that story my energy around media was renewed.
But wasn’t just Sean’s words that were inspiring. He proved being a prolific operator and executing well could produce fantastic financial results.
His company, Industry Dive, was launched in 2012. They got profitable in 18 months, hit $10M in revenue in 2015, then $16M in 2017, $22M in 2018, $35M in 2020, $80M in 2021, and $110M in 2022.
Industry Dive was flying under the radar the entire time. They focused on niche B2B media like Waste, BioPharma, and SupplyChain.
Last summer I talked with one of the biggest media investors in the country and mentioned Industry Dive. He had no idea who they were.
And he’s not alone.
These are a few comparisons of Google search history comparisons (Industry Dive is the blue line).
Buzzfeed vs Industry Dive
Morning Brew vs Industry Dive
Spiceworks vs Industry Dive
The Athletic vs Industry Dive
Despite being significantly less known both within the industry and externally, Griffey and his DC-based team continued to follow their plan: execute.
This week when it was announced that Informa acquired Industry Dive for $525M, it became one of the biggest narrative violations our industry has experienced.
To have a successful financial outcome in media you don’t need to be based in New York, you don’t need to have a huge TikTok presence, you don’t need to raise venture, you don’t need to use tricks or frills with growth, you don’t need to be the hot brand on Twitter, and you don’t need to avoid advertising revenue like the plague.
All you need to succeed is wonderful execution and a business model that produces cashflows.
Media is that simple, and it’s always been that way.
Congratulations to Sean and his team for the success. And thank you for all you’ve done for the industry.