For any journalist who Googles their name, one of the hits is likely to be for Muck Rock, a database that compiles lists of people from social media, online publications and other vast swaths of the Internet. Cover and Where, a tool used by public relations pros, marketers and others who want to connect with them. Today, Muck Rack is making another kind of connection with investors: It has raised $180 million in what it describes as its first outside funding to bootstrap since its founding in 2009.
The money is coming from a single, big-name investor, Susquehanna Growth Equity, which is taking a minority stake in the company. Founders Gregory Gallant (CEO) and Lee Semmel (CTO) will continue to control the company following the deal.
The Miami-based company also offers a range of other tools for media professionals — including media monitoring, reporting and analytics, and collaboration and pitching tools, introduced in 2011, after two years of running just as a journalist database — and is part of the business intelligence world in general, specifically in the media category. And competes with the likes of Cision, Meltwater, Brandwatch, and possibly more targeted services like TechMeme. All of these present an interesting intersection in what they do.
On the one hand, the face of “media” and who and what attracts attention in the last decade: many traditional publications (outlets) have disappeared or changed with the times. The Times, meanwhile, has introduced a new layer of communication in the form of social media, which is alongside or often above publications when it comes to mass communication and how people learn about news, or new products or whatever is being broadcast.
Social media has a viral element that is completely different from traditional media, and the people who create the content there are also different. Sometimes, they are still journalists. Often, they are not.
The big question for a company like Muck Rack — or its competitors — is how they will evolve over time to reflect that mass communications landscape. A secondary question is what is the value of doing it today?
At least one answer is coming in the form of today’s news and this massive funding round. Landing at a time when VCs are tightening their purse strings, it underscores how strongly Muck Rack has performed so far and investors’ confidence in it.
“We are excited to partner with SGE to support our rapid growth and continue to define the role of PRM in the SaaS ecosystem,” Muck Rack co-founder and CEO Gregory Gallant said in a statement. “This investment is an indicator of the strength of our business and the bright future of Muck Rock as we continue our mission to empower organizations to build trust, tell their stories and demonstrate the unique value of earned media.”
The company says revenues are up 75% in 2021 and sales are up 300% between 2018 and 2021, impressive numbers for a company more than a decade old and bootstrapped. Customers using the MuckRack database include Google, the International Rescue Committee, Pfizer, Golin, Zapier and Duolingo.
The impact of Covid-19 appears to be two-fold: not only has it made Muck Rack customers look to more cloud-based tools to be more efficient, but it has also affected how Muck Rack operates. The number of staff is 200 and it will operate as a “distributed” business from 2021, the company said. (Muck Rack was founded in NYC, but the date in its announcement is Miami, telling how the company took the moment to seek locations more conducive to work-life balance, which has become a huge theme during the pandemic. )
And it has traction with its targets: more than 10,000 journalists were asked to add to the database when it first launched, although from my personal experience it seems to be quite adept at adding journalists without even asking them to add.
“Every PR professional should use Muck Rack,” SGE managing director Josh Elser said in a statement. We look forward to working with Greg, Lee and their team. SGE’s Elser and Scott Feldman will join the board.