Complex is an American New York-based media platform for youth culture which was founded as a bi-monthly magazine by fashion designer Marc (Ecko) Milecofsky. Complex reports on trends in style, pop culture, music, sports and sneakers with a focus on streetwear, sneaker culture, hip hop, and graphic art. Complex reached over 90 million unique users per month in 2013, across its owned and operated and partner sites, socials and YouTube channels. The print magazine ceased publication with the December 2016/January 2017 issue.
Cover for October/November 2015 featuring Demi Lovato
|Categories||News, entertainment, pop culture|
|Publisher||Rich Antoniello (CEO, Complex Networks)|
|500,000 in 2012 (self-assessment, may include unsolicited delivery)|
|Final issue||December 2016/January 2017 (print)|
|Company||Complex Media Inc.|
(Verizon Hearst Media Partners)
|Based in||New York City|
Complex has been named by Business Insider as one of the Most Valuable Startups in New York, and Most Valuable Private Companies in the World. Complex CEO Rich Antoniello was named among the Silicon Alley 100. In 2012, the company launched Complex TV, an online broadcasting platform; in 2016, it became a joint-venture subsidiary of Verizon and Hearst.
- 1 History
- 2 Covers
- 3 Complex TV
- 4 Key staff and contributors
- 5 Brand partnerships
- 6 Awards
- 7 Controversies
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Complex was established in 2002 by the founder of the Eckō Unltd. brand, Marc Ecko, as a print magazine aimed at providing young males a report of the latest in hip hop, fashion and pop culture without regard to race. The name Complex evolved from a slogan developed to promote the Eckō Unltd. website: "Ecko.complex". The idea was to create a men's magazine that combined Eckō's streetwear and hip hop attitude along with the style of Japanese men's magazines by providing consumer guides. This was achieved by creating a magazine in two sections: one traditional magazine, and the other a shopping guide.
In 2005, Complex was joined by the former senior editor of Vibe magazine, Noah Callahan-Bever. He became editor-in-chief and chief content officer a year later; a position he still retains as of February 2014. By 2006, Complex had begun to turn a profit which allowed the magazine to consider an expansion of their online presence. In April 2007, Complex soft-launched a media network with four websites: NahRight, Nice Kicks, SlamxHype and MoeJackson.
In September 2007, Complex launched Complex Media in order to fully capitalize on the trend toward digital content. In 2010, ad sales grew 154%. According to comScore, Complex got 12 million unique hits in March 2012. This encouraged large brands such as Coors, AT&T, Ford, McDonald's, Nike, Adidas and Apple to advertise within the collective. Complex now includes over 100 sites.
In 2011, Complex acquired Pigeons & Planes, an indie music and rap blog, and brought their total sites to 51 with monthly traffic of 25 million uniques. In 2012, Complex launched Four Pins, a humorous menswear site, edited by Fuck Yeah Menswear author Lawrence Schlossman; Sneaker Report, a performance footwear site; and First We Feast, a food culture site edited by former Time Out New York food editor Chris Schonberger. In 2013, Complex launched the dance music site Do Androids Dance and Green Label, a branded content site presented by Mountain Dew. That year, Complex also acquired the sneakerhead culture magazine and website Sole Collector.
In 2013, Complex partnered with Mountain Dew to launch "Green Label" an entertainment and culture website. In 2014, Complex launched an NBA-themed website called "Triangle Offense" in a partnership with Bacardi rum.
In January 2015, Complex announced its acquisition of Collider, the online source for movies, television, breaking news, incisive content, and imminent trends. Collider.com reaches over 3 million monthly unique readers (comScore, December 2014) powered by a team of ten writers, including founder and Editor in Chief Steve Weintraub. In February 2018, Complex sold Collider.com to former head-of-video Marc Fernandez.
In 2009, Complex raised $12.8 million from Accel Partners and Austin Ventures.
Verizon Hearst Media Partners subsidiary (2016–present)Edit
On April 18, 2016, Complex was acquired by a joint venture of Hearst Communications and Verizon Communications, Verizon Hearst Media Partners. The venture emphasized a goal of building "a portfolio of the emerging digital brands of the future for the millennial and Gen-Z audience", and proposed that Complex would develop content for Verizon-owned AOL and go90.
Complex became known early on for its double-sided covers and split format. Complex covers often combined celebrities from across music, film and sports. For example, Mos Def and David Bowie appeared together on the cover of the August/September 2003 issue. Some of Complex's early covers included Nas (May 2002), Tony Hawk and Xzibit (June/July 2002), Ludacris and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (April/May 2003), and Mos Def and David Bowie (August/September 2003). In 2007, Complex gave Kim Kardashian her first-ever magazine shoot and cover. Complex has since expanded to interactive digital covers.
Complex TV launched in 2012 as an online broadcaster of original content. Nathan Brown, a long-time video development and production executive, serves as general manager of Complex TV and Video. In December 2013, a subsidiary of Complex TV, Complex News, was launched, focusing on day-to-day news. In 2014, Pluto.tv added Complex Media as a content partner. Complex Content Studio is supported by an 18-person editorial team. On November 10, 2017, a block of Complex TV series began airing on the U.S cable network Fuse under the Complex x Fuse banner.
- Magnum Opus
- Everyday Struggle
- Hot Ones
- Fashion Bros!
- Desus vs. Mero
- This Week on Netflix
- Mero in the Wild
- The Neighborhood
- The Combat Jack Show
- Complex Individuals
- No Debate
- Ratchet News Network
- Trailer Hitch
- The Process
- First Look
- Riff Raff Realm
- Complex Kids
- Cut & Show
- Sneaker Shopping
- Full Size Run
In 2014, Complex won "Best Original Non-Scripted Video Series" at the Digiday Video Awards for "Magnum Opus".
Key staff and contributorsEdit
- Rich Antoniello, CEO
- Noah Callahan-Bever, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Officer
- Moksha Fitzgibbons, Chief Revenue Officer
- Scott Cherkin, EVP, Product & Business Development
- Coltrane Curtis, editor
- Brent Rollins, Creative Director
- Joe LaPuma, SVP of Content Strategy
- Russ Bengtson, Editor of Sneakers
- Lawrence Schlossman, Editor-in-Chief of Four Pins
In 2013, Digiday stated Complex was one of the publishers that "acts like an agency" based on their branded content and brand partnerships. In 2013 alone, Complex created an average of 47 pieces of content a month on behalf of major brands, including McDonald's, Gillette, Levi's, Toyota, Adidas and others. It also partnered with PepsiCo to launch GreenLabel.com, a Mountain Dew-branded lifestyle site that's staffed by Complex's editorial employees. Green Label currently attracts over twice as much traffic as MountainDew.com. Later in 2013, Complex worked with Dr. Pepper to a series of videos aimed at young males featuring producer/songwriter The-Dream.
In 2011, Complex was named one of "The 30 Most Valuable Internet Startups In New York" by Business Insider. The following year Complex was named one of "The Most Valuable, Private Companies In The World" with an estimated valuation of $250 million.
In 2014, Complex won "Best Original Non-Scripted Video Series" at the Digiday Video Awards for "Magnum Opus".
In 2015, Complex won "Best Video Destination – Entertainment for Complex TV" at the Digiday Video Awards.
Lil Wayne and Jay-ZEdit
In the December/January 2007 issue, Lil Wayne announced that he had superseded Jay-Z: "It's not your house anymore and I'm better than you," Lil Wayne said. Jay-Z responded shortly after, discouraging Lil Wayne from smoking "cannabis" on a guest verse on rapper T.I.'s song "Watch What You Say". Lil Wayne responded on a track called "Beat Without Bass", by the rapper Freekey Zekey, saying: "You old-ass rappers better stay on tour. You're like forty-four, I got a .44, I'm twenty-four. I could murk you and come home when I'm forty-four."
Kim Kardashian photoEdit
In 2009, AnimalNewYork.com reported that Complex had posted a digitally unenhanced version of April/May issue cover star Kim Kardashian. Complex swapped the enhanced image on their site, but not before the unenhanced version had gone viral. Kardashian responded to the incident on her blog, saying: "So what: I have a little cellulite. What curvy girl doesn't!?" She went on to say that she was "proud" of her body, posting behind-the-scenes pictures of the shoot on her website. The incident was covered by a variety of online publications including Huffington Post, NY Daily News, Business Insider, Gawker, and others.
Uncovering the whereabouts of Earl SweatshirtEdit
In 2011, Odd Future member Thebe Kgositsile, better known by his stage name Earl Sweatshirt, had discontinued making public appearances with the group and making music entirely. His whereabouts remained a mystery with various outlets reporting different stories. In 2011, Complex was the first to report the true location of the missing member of Odd Future. He had been checked into Coral Reef Academy in Samoa, a retreat for at-risk boys. Earl Sweatshirt eventually returned to the United States in 2012.
In January, 2013, Four Pins broke the news that the streetwear clothing line of Kanye West's creative director Virgil Abloh had screenprinted blank flannel shirts made by the Rugby Ralph Lauren brand and re-sold them for 700% mark-up, suggesting that some stores had marketed the shirts by photoshopping the Rugby tags out of the images on their online stores.
Balthazar bathroom attendant scandalEdit
On November 4, 2013, FirstWeFeast broke news that the proprietor of popular Soho brasserie Balthazar, Keith McNally, would continue employing his bathroom attendants in a different capacity after previously stating they would be relieved of their jobs. The CEO of Business Insider, Henry Blodget, had initially prompted their dismissal in a blog post on his website, but following the deluge of press about the firings, McNally told FirstWeFeast they would remain employees of Balthazar.
Wale threatens Complex staffEdit
On December 11, 2013, Complex writer Insanul Ahmed received a call from rapper Wale complaining that his latest album, The Gifted, had not been included on Complex's "50 Best Albums of 2013" list. A portion of the conversation was recorded and posted on the Complex website and on Complex TV on December 13. Wale could be heard threatening: "Get the security ready." According to Complex, Wale refused requests to meet, but he did post a humorous Instagram video that day which made light of the situation. Wale, later appearing on Hot97, said that his fall-out with Kid Cudi had something to do with the snub, and that he was not "begging Williamsburg hipsters" to like his music. Wale was referring to the October/November 2010 issue of Complex in which Kid Cudi said: "We don't fuck with you musically." The quote quickly went viral.
- Spangler, Todd (14 September 2016). "Verizon, Hearst Form 'Complex Networks' Digital-Video Business, Headed by Rich Antoniello". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- "CM Reaches Nearly 45M Uniques & 480M+ Pageviews in January 2012; Complex.com Reaches 4.7M UVs and 91M PVs". Complex Media. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- Sternberg, Josh. "How Complex Straddles The Ad Network Publisher Divide". Digiday. Digiday. Retrieved February 9, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Spangler, Todd. "Complex Expands to Give Dudes Their Due". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Robbins, Roni. "Pluto.TV Expands Its Lineup of Web Channels, Including Complex Boosts programming as it takes on traditional TV". AdWeek.
- "Premium Content Creators AOL, Network A, Complex, Deca, Maker Studio & Whalerock Bring Original Series & Video Libraries to Dailymotion". Daily Motion. Archived from the original on 2014-09-21.
- Tyler McCall (December 8, 2016). "Complex to end print publication". Fashionista. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- "The 30 Most Valuable Internet Startups in New York". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Shontell, Alyson. "DIGITAL 100 REVISED: The Most Valuable, Private Companies In The World". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Rose Rickey, Megan. "SA 100 2013: The Coolest People in New York Tech". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Verizon Hearst Media Partners - Hearst". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Allard, Greg (October 3, 2015). "The Top 20 Selling Fashion Magazines". Tune Groover. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- Kenner, Rob. "The Oral History of Complex". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Staff. "Complex Names New Editor-in-Chief". New York Observer. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Dumenco, Simon. "The Print Guy Who's Going 45% Digital". Ad Age. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Chowdry, Amit. "Accel Partners and Austin Ventures Invest $12.8 Million in Marc Ecko's Complex Media". Pulse 2.0. Archived from the original on 2016-09-19. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Flamm, Matthew. "Web network boosts Complex Media". Crain's. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Moses, Lucia. "Complex Media Network Relaunches Flagship Site". AdWeek.
- Caramanica, Jon. "Hip-Hop Comes to Men's Wear". New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Bengston, Russ. "Introducing Sneaker Report". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Merwin, Hugh. "Complex Launches Food Section, 'First We Feast'". Grub Street. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Confusion (January 7, 2013). "Complex Launches Do Androids Dance, a New EDM Site". Pigeons & Planes. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Elliott, Stuart. "Brought to You by Mountain Dew". New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Rose Dickey, Megan (March 14, 2013). "How This Guy Turned His Shoe Obsession Into A Prime Acquisition Target". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Bhuiyan, Johana. "Complex Media gets a new logo and identity". Capital New York. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Noah Callahan-Bever on Eminem's Limited 1992 Edition Cover". Youtube. 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Elliott, Stuart (April 23, 2013). "Brought to You by Mountain Dew". The New York Times.
- "Bacardi Signs As Exclusive Sponsor Of New NBA Lifestyle Website From ComplexMedia". Sports Business Daily.
- McDermott, John. "Turns out traditional publishers do just fine with millennials". Digiday.
- "Complex Buys Fanboy Site Collider for Growing Media Network Reorienting Toward Video". Ad Age. Advertising Age. January 23, 2015.
- "Complex Media Sells Entertainment Site Collider (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
- Dance Site Do Androids Dance to Merge with Complex
- Menswear Blog Four Pins Is Shutting Down
- Kee, Tameka. "Updated: Marc Ecko's Complex Media Gets $12.8 Million, Spins Off Into Standalone Company". Gigaom.
- Shontell, Alyson. "Complex Media Raises $25 Million From The Powerhouse Behind Umbro And Rocawear, Iconix Brand Group". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Verizon, Hearst to Acquire Complex Media". Variety. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- Hirschman, David. "So what do you do, Noah Callaghan-Bever, EIC, Complex?". mediabistro. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Denver, Nate. "Kim Kardashian: Almost Famous (2007 Cover Story & Gallery)". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- "Digital Covers". Complex.
- VideoInk (4 December 2013). "Complex Media Expands Video Team, Including Nathan Brown as GM (Q&A)". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Patel, Sahil. "Complex Bolsters Originals Slate with Riff Raff-Hosted Variety Show". Video Ink. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Hunte, Justin. ""RiFF RAFF REALM" Debuts on Complex TV". HipHopDX. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Bilton, Ricardo. "A look inside publishers' content studios".
- "Complex and Fuse Partner for Special TV Programming Block". November 1, 2017. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "Complex Brings 'Hot Ones' And 'Sneaker Shopping' To TV". November 20, 2017. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "Complex - Making Culture Pop". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- VideoInk (21 November 2013). "Complex Bolsters Originals Slate with Riff Raff-Hosted Variety Show". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Wallace, Caitlin. "GE Wins Best in Show at Digiday Video Awards".
- Collum, Chase. "Breaking down the Complex: A one-on-one with EVP Moksha Fitzgibbons". Advertising Week. Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- "Complex Media Adds to Its Executive Team". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
- Rollins, Brent. "16 Behind the Scenes Stories About Complex's 2012 Magazine Covers". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Infante, Dave. "Style Profile | Joe La Puma". The Crosby Press. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Evans, Jonathan. "Q&A: The guys behind the Fk Yeah Meanswear book". Esquire. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Thoreson, Tyler. "Men of Style: Lawrence Schlossman". GiltManual. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Marshall, Jack. "The Publisher of The Future Acts Like An Agency". Digiday.
- D'Amico, Mary Lisbeth. "Dr Pepper Reaches Out to Younger Hipper Audience". Clickz.
- Bottger, Caroline. "BuzzFeed, OMD, Fullscreen among the winners at Digiday Video Awards".
- Frere-Jones, Sasha. "HIGH AND MIGHTY". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Kardashian, Kim. "Yes, I Am Complex!". Kim Kardashian. Celebuzz. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Kim Kardashian Airbrushed Thinner, Smoother, Lighter". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "Kim Kardashian on retouched Complex magazine photos: Yup - I have cellulite!". NY Daily News.
- Baker, Ernest. "Complex Exclusive: We Found Earl Sweatshirt". Complex. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Sanneh, Kelefa. "WHERE'S EARL?". New Yorker. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Duncan, Byard. "The GQ&A: Earl Sweatshirt". GQ. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- DeLeon, Jian. "No One Pyrex Should Have All Those Rugby Flannels". Four Pins. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Cush, Andy. "Did Kanye's Creative Director Mark Up a Rugby Flannel by $470?". AnimalNewYork. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Zack (January 10, 2013). "Don't Waste Yor Money: Pyrex Vision is as Authentic as Fake Boobs". Ahoodie. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Kamer, Foster. "McNally Responds to the Balthazar Bathroom Attendant Fiasco: Employyes Saved Despite Blodget's Bullying". FirstWeFeast. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Janos, Adam. "Blogger gets eatery's bathroom staff fired". New York Post. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- "Balthazar Won't Fire Bathroom Attendants After All! (UPDATE)". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- Ahmed, Insanul. "The 50 Best Albums of 2013". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Ahmed, Insanul. "Wale Threatens Complex Staff Over Our "50 Best Albums of 2013" List". Complex. Complex Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Millard, Drew. "A few words about this whole "Wale threatening Complex" thing". Noisey. Vice Media. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Markman, Rob. "Wale Vs. Complex Magazine: I Won't Apologize To 'Williamsburg Hipsters'". MTV. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Kennedy, Gerrick. "Wale threatens Complex magazine after omission from year-end list". LA Times. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Vann, Douglas. "Video: Wale Throws Temper-Tantrum Over Complex Magazine Article". VannDigital.com. Vann Digital Networks. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- Muhammed, Latifah. "Wale Blames Complex Magazine Snub on Kid Cudi Beef". BET. BET. Retrieved February 13, 2014.