PopSugar Must Have

According to Boston Consulting Group, woman will influence the purchase of $15 trillion in goods per year by 2014. Already, women control 70% of online purchases worldwide and are the leaders, not the laggards, in adopting online tools of all kinds. An interesting company is called Sugar Inc. (http://www.sugarinc.com/) a digital media and commerce company. On their website, Brian Sugar describes how they started this multi-faceted company:

I was VP of Marketing at 2Wire, a telecom equipment company, and part of my job was to get journalists to write about what we were doing. I met Om Malik while he was a writer for Business 2.0 and just starting GigaOm. Om and I quickly became friends. I became more interested in the business behind his blog network than DSL Modems or IPTV set-tops. In February of 2005, Om was over at the house for an Oscars party Lisa and I threw. Om turned to me and said if Lisa and I could build a blog network like his, but focused on women, we could rival traditional media companies like Time Inc. or Condé Nast.

The next day I downloaded an early version of WordPress and began hacking up a template for PopSugar (a domain I bought many years prior). Lisa was working at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, a San Francisco-based advertising agency, as a media supervisor for eBay & HP. She always wanted to be a writer and began blogging on PopSugar while at work. She would write about celebrities, tv, movies, the “It” bag, what to TiVo, magazines, books, gadgets, blogs, models, etc., and she was good. Over the course of my career, I have built websites for some great brands like J.Crew, Bluelight, Martha Stewart, and Esteé Lauder, and PopSugar grew faster than any one of those.

During the fall/winter of 2005, we learned that Lisa was pregnant with Katie and a 2Wire exit was imminent. We started to lay out a plan of what other titles we would launch. In April/May of 2006 I resigned from 2Wire, we incorporated Sugar Publishing, and we started to look for office space. We began hiring editors and training them at our house. During the first day of training, Katie decided to come 2 weeks early. We took June off. In July we moved into 1 Sutter Street and started to grow, fast. In the fall, we received venture capital from Sequoia Capital and Michael Moritz joined our board of directors. We used this capital to launch a dozen sites and our vision became a reality. We also expanded our business into fashion search with the acquisition of ShopStyle and video with the acquisition of ShopFlick (PopSugar Studios).

We have grown to over 200 employees with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, and international sites in the UK, France, Germany, and Australia. We remain focused on building a thriving digital commerce, original content and global media company, bringing women 18-40 everything they love, all in one place.

Beyond another example of how opportunity comes to those who take “risks” (even though, in reality, the risk is actually lower than most people imagine) it is also an example of how firms like this are finding ways to add value and build loyalty. They now offer a subscription service where each month you receive in a unique bag a mix of fashion, health, beauty and home decor items hand-picked by Sugar’s team that they think are “must-haves,” delighters, and ahead of trend (https://musthave.popsugar.com/).

The PopSugar Must Have subscription is $35 a month. Sugar Inc. reaches 28 million unique monthly visitors through specialized content on 39 global sites aimed at woman 18 to 40.

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