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Three views on the future of media startups

The Equity crew this week chewed through a trio of media stories, each dealing with private companies and their successes. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Axios was growing rapidly and near profitability. The paper also broke news that Morning Brew might exit to Business Insider for a hefty $75 million potential payout. Meanwhile, we covered the news that The Juggernaut raised $2 million for its paywalled publication focused on South Asian news.

The conversation, as a result, was a fairly indulgent and nerdy affair. It’s always fun to celebrate other journalists finding success in different ways, and this week felt like a moment for the media news landscape. Because the topic is so near to our hearts, for better or worse, we’re fitting our broader thoughts into this post about the future of media.

Our own Natasha Mascarenhas writes about how inequity in media and who gets to succeed, Danny Crichton has some pretty strong feelings about digital advertising and Alex Wilhelm writes about how the varied methods of recent media success are themselves heartening.

So this weekend let’s pause for a minute to ruminate on the upstart media world, a place where too often private capital and media economics have had a falling out.

This week, it was announced that advertising might not be a bad idea after all. Axios is reportedly expected to become profitable this year, and Morning Brew, a free newsletter about business insights, could get acquired for between $50 million to $75 million by Business Insider. Both of these media companies make money off of newsletters. And if you end the story there, it’s clear that news isn’t simply a fundamental aspect of our democracy — it makes money, too.

But, the story shouldn’t end there.

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Media Roundup: Patreon joins unicorn club, Facebook could ban news in Australia, more

Welcome to the very first edition of Extra Crunch’s Media Roundup. Over the past few months, we’ve launched features like Decrypted, Deep Science and The Exchange, which aggregate and analyze the latest news in a given sector, so it seemed overdue to do something similar for media.

The goal is to provide a regular update on what entrepreneurs in the content or advertising business should be thinking about. That doesn’t just mean startup funding — we’ll track the broader landscape, including platform policies that could affect everyone — which is just as important as knowing who’s getting checks.

If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see included in future roundups, please let me know in the comments below.

Let’s get started.

Facebook may ban news sharing in Australia

This is part of an ongoing dispute between Facebook and the Australian government, which has created a plan that would require Facebook and Google to share revenue with Australian news publishers whose content appears on their services. Both companies have a complicated relationship with the news business, with many publishers both relying on large platforms for traffic while also resenting the fact that those platforms take the vast majority of digital ad revenue.

In an attempt to improve that relationship, Google and Facebook have committed in recent years to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in journalism — and while those efforts are commendable, it’s worth asking whether publishers should be entitled to more by law, not just as a gift.

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