Originally posted on Forbes.com
What’s a meme worth? Likely more than you’d think.
Doing Things Media, an Atlanta-founded company that owns many of the most popular Instagram meme accounts like @ShitHeadSteve and @DoggosDoingThings, has taken in a $21.5 million Series A. The round was led by Volition Capital, a Boston VC firm that has backed companies like Chewy.com, the pets e-retailer.
Doing Things Media is profitable and brought in more than $10 million in revenue last year from a mix of sponsored ads and e-commerce, mostly apparel and other items bearing the meme accounts’ brands. The five-year-old company hadn’t intended to take any outside capital but thought Volition’s experience backing Chewy.com would benefit a determination to grow its own e-commerce operation. “When they hit us up, we were like, ‘Yeah, okay, let’s hear them out,’” Hailey says. “Our goal is to keep growth that’s sustainable.”
Memes are everywhere online: silly, viral content commenting on pop culture often through nothing more than recycled joke images. But it’s been hard to gauge how well a company might monetize them. Or how valuable such a company would be. In 2020, Warner Music reportedly spent $85 million on IMGN Media, which owns things like the Instagram account @Daquan. Given what Warner paid for IMGN and the new influx of Series A cash, it’s reasonable to assume Doing Things received a valuation that neared $100 million in this latest funding round.
Doing Things weathered the pandemic downturn in marketing dollars by pitching advertisers like Bud Light, T-Mobile and Netflix on its young, loyal audience. It has approximately 20 meme accounts on Instagram, a collection of brands with over 40 million followers.
“Companies like Doing Things have already done the hardest part: They’ve created unique content, they’ve amassed massive audiences, and their audiences are very engaged,” says Larry Cheng, a founding partner at Volition. “We think there’s plenty of room to create new brands and expand to new categories and also to extend to different distribution channels.”