Business Insider, the US-based business/tech news site that also covers a host of others topics, has raised a $5 million round that includes “a significant investment” from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, according to a memo from founder Henry Blodget that was (appropriately) made public by Business Insider.
Blodget, a former equities analyst who was barred from Wall Street in 2001, says the money will “allow us to continue to invest aggressively in many areas of the business”, including new hires and increased efforts for editorial, tech and product, sales and marketing, subscriptions and events.
The memo goes on to explain that the seeds of the personal investment from Bezos were sown around a year ago, when he had dinner with Blodget. According to Blodget, Bezos “sees some parallels” between Business Insider and Amazon:
Jeff’s investment grew out of a dinner he and I had about a year ago. We talked about the business, and he was excited about it. (He sees some parallels with Amazon). A few months later, he expressed an interest in investing. My reaction was basically “Hell, yeah!”
Amazon has always focused on customers first, knowing that, if they do a great job at that, everything else will take care of itself. This obsession with customers and long-term focus are the reasons that Amazon has been so successful. And this philosophy is something that we very much want to emulate.
The memo, which amusingly instructs its recipients to refrain from tweeting or sharing the news until 10:00 (the blog went up before then), makes no reference to the potential conflict of interest that comes from the founder of Amazon — a veritable technology giant that is the subject of countless media articles each day — investing in a tech news blog.
Investments in tech media have been a point of argument for many following the space. AOL owns TechCrunch, Vox Media — owner of The Verge and others — has raised funds, PandoDaily counts tech VCs among its investors, as do many other sites; but the Bezos investment is particularly interesting for the fact that Amazon has grown to become such a huge player in global hardware and online content spaces. It remains to be seen how Business Insider will respond that issue with its coverage of Amazon.
Prior to this round, Business Insider had raised $13.6 million in funding. The company partnered with Times Internet earlier this week to launch a localized version in India to strengthen its global presence.
Interestingly, news of the funding comes a little while after Blodget was linked with a potential return to Wall Street — a place he was ousted from after giving false assessments of stocks. Could the securing of new capital be interpreted as a sign that Blodget is preparing to move on to new things?
“Ten years ago, I got what amounted to a dishonorable discharge from the industry, and I’ve always been ashamed of that. At some point, if it seems appropriate, I would like to explore the possibility of being reinstated,” the Business Insider CEO/Editor-in-Chief told The New Yorker recently.
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