Digital & Social Media

Meet Citizen Mashable

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What Happened: With the help of a $13.3 million equity investment, Mashable may be on its way to building the next great news media brand.

The news website that flirted with selling out to CNN and possibly others in 2012 seems now dedicated to expanding into a model for the 21st century news operations. Recently, it announced it had raised millions from outside investors for the first time to finance expansion into additional areas of coverage, a 50 percent increase in overall headcount on the editorial and business sides, and opening more offices.

The new investors included Updata Partners and New Markets Venture partners among others.

Mashable already reports that it reaches 30 million unique visitors a month globally. Starting as a website for technology news, it expanded into business, entertainment and other areas. It produces a limited amount of original reporting at this point, which would clearly have to change for it to be in the same league as the older mainstream journalism operations.

Mashable has pioneered work in native advertising, essentially content produced by brands or Mashable writers for brands tailored to look and read like news. The private company says it makes most of its money from advertising.

The key to Mashable’s success will be “millennials, and people who think like them,” founder Pete Cashmore told CNNMoney’s Brian Stelter. He referred to it as the “connected generation.”  That said, Mashable has been hiring some veterans from mainstream journalism, such as Jim Roberts, who formerly worked for the New York Times and Reuters.

What This Means for Brands: You can expect a major push from Mashable in native advertising, particularly with the addition of more writers and salespeople. And they are likely to find a more enthusiastic corporate customer. A bigger and more influential Mashable means a larger audience for its branded content, which studies suggest may get better click-through rates than independent news.

The question is whether Mashable will actually change the face of journalism—after all, branded content has existed in various forms for decades—into a true 21st century version of news.

Contributing to TRENDING items are Jenna Carter, Sarah Gordon, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray.