In these harsh economic times where B2B enterprise plays make the safest bets, newly venture-backed media companies are a rarity. That’s why it’s interesting to see that fashion blog The Business of Fashion has today announced a $2.1 million seed round led by Index Ventures and including investors in the media and technology spheres. It’s the appearance on the list of a certain big name in the fashion industry that may raise a few eyebrows though.
London-based The Business of Fashion covers news and analysis about exactly that – business developments and trends in the fashion industry. Launched by Imran Amed in 2007, it has taken the same route that many a personal blog has to now hold an important role in its niche while being bootstrapped by its founder. The site has been described as “an industry authority” by Vogue Italia and “The Economist of Fashion” by Maclean’s Magazine of Canada.
So, why is Index investing in a media business? Well, having previously put money into a number of fashion-focused companies such as Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Etsy and Nasty Gal, it should know a thing or two about the industry. In a press release to accompany today’s news, Robin Klein, partner at Index, describes Amed as “a fantastic entrepreneur… we are looking forward to working with him as he continues to build this important next generation media company.”
In a letter to the Business of Fashion community on the site today, Amed says “We are aiming to create a next generation B2B media company, designed to inform, stimulate and inspire today’s highly connected, globally-minded, fashion industry professionals.”
The ‘Pando problem’?
In addition to Index, the funding round included participation from Samos Investments, Carmen Busquets, Novel Group, Novel TMT Ventures; and Advancit Capital. However, it’s another name, LVMH, that may cause a problem for Business of Fashion. For those unfamiliar with it, LVMH stands for Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a luxury products group with a number of fashion brands under the Louis Vuitton umbrella.
Can Business of Fashion cover its beat impartially when it’s partly owned by a company it needs to write about? A news site having investors from the industry it covers can be a convenient stick for rivals and critics to beat it with. Tech blog PandoDaily, for example, is backed by a number of tech VCs – a fact that is often brought out by those wanting to criticise the site’s content, regardless of whether that’s justified or not.
Today’s announcement from Business of Fashion includes a note on editorial independence, stating that the site “will retain complete editorial independence from its investors in order to maintain and protect the company’s reputation and value.” Still, Amed may face snipes from those who wish to undermine him any time his site says something complimentary about a Luis Vuitton brand or something negative about one of its rivals.
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