Sunday 24 September 2017

The Tab: Student tabloid raises $3m to take over the US

The Tab founders
The Tab founders

Lauren Davidson

The Tab, an online red top that launched in 2009, secured the investment from Balderton, the London-based venture capital firm behind Betfair, Lovefilm and Citymapper.

The company said it would use the funds to widen its American expansion after opening its first US office, a team of 16 editors in New York, in September.

The Tab, which now has a presence in more than 40 UK universities and 25 North American colleges, including every Ivy League school, plans to roll out to another 45 campuses in the US before April.

"The Tab is much more than a publisher – we are building the largest talent network on the planet by making the newsroom experience possible anywhere," said Jack Rivlin, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Tab.

"We think we can become the biggest platform for talented young journalists in America, as we have in the UK."

The Tab – a play on the words "tabloid" and "Cantab", the nickname for Cambridge students – was founded by three students at the university in 2009.

It got off to a controversial start, running "Rear of the Year" competitions and publishing "Tab Totty" pictures of naked women.

The site claims that six of its stories get picked up by the national press each week. Prominent scoops include a pepper spray attack on Jeremy Kyle, which made the front page of The Sun, and the booze-fuelled escapades of England cricketers, which made the back page of The Daily Mail and a two-page spread in The Telegraph.

It is now focusing on building its technology and training platform, which allows reporters to live chat with editors in London and New York and access a dashboard with journalism tips and real-time analytics of their performance.

Its websites generated a record high 3m unique visits in November.

Balderton's Suranga Chandratillake called The Tab, which has published 2650 journalists this year, a "technology­powered cultural phenomenon".

He added: "The team has built a unique way to scale authentic, engaging grassroots journalism across the UK and has shown that the same model works in the US too."

The company raised about £200,000 two years ago and makes money from sponsored stories, which is commercial content that is designed to look similar to editorial content. "Traditional media is out of touch with young people. By combining the ease of social with the quality of professional media, we’re producing original and incredibly engaging stories at a much lower cost," Mr Rivlin said.

The Tab's funding follows significant investments into other digital media companies aimed at millennials.

NBCUniversal recently pumped $200m into both Buzzfeed and Vox Media, valuing the companies at $1.5bn and $1bn respectively.

Last week, Disney doubled its investment in Vice Media to $400m, giving the video platform a valuation north of $4bn.

Balterton Capital was founded by ex Esat executive Barry Maloney.

Telegraph.co.uk

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