For years, Larry Burke, who has owned Outside Magazine since 1978, had offers to buy the outdoor media flagship. Always, he turned them down, while also turning Outside into a kind of lifestyle magazine catering to the adventure and wellness communities. Well, he turned them all down until this year, that is.
As of today, Outside Magazine is now part of Pocket Outdoor Media, which already owned a bushel of outdoor titles, including Backpacker, Climbing, Ski, and Beta, the newly launched mountain bike magazine formed from the ashes of Bike Magazine.
Pocket is also rebranding itself as, simply, Outside. In separate deals, Pocket also acquired GaiaGPS, Peloton Magazine, athleteReg, and OutsideTV.
“The timing was right for a number of reasons,” Burke, 78, wrote in an email to The New Mexican. “We have been fortunate to stay independent and profitable for all of these years and that speaks volumes for the talented team that built Outside into an iconic brand. Our industry has weathered all kinds of challenges over four decades, including recessions, the digital explosion and now the pandemic.”
Burke is reportedly stepping down from any work at all with the magazine, to focus on writing his memoirs.
Nobody at Outside Magazine is expected to be laid off in the transaction.
Outside, the newly named media group, not the magazine, also announced this week they’d raised $150 million in funding from Sequoia Heritage, an arm of Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture capital firms, and an early investor in companies like AirBnb and DoorDash.
The plan is to allow subscribers to access all of Outside’s (again, the media group) titles with one sign-on process, and, potentially, subscription rate. In theory, for example, one could log-in to Outside’s web portal, then read articles in Backpacker, Beta, or Outside.
It’s a tough world out there for independent media these days, with ad revenue shrinking. Subscription and reader support are the only real ways forward, unless you can capture the vast majority of ad revenue by setting up media conglomerates that can try to monopolize traffic, while also gathering a big subscriber base for a swath of digital content.
It’s also a tough world for magazine lovers who value independent publications, with another biggie entering another big media brand tent.