Defy Media was an American digital media company that produced original online content for the 12–34 age group. Originally founded in 1996 as Alloy Online (later Alloy Digital), the final company was formed in 2013 by its merger with Break Media.
|Founded||1996 (as Alloy Online)|
August 14, 2013 (as Defy Media)
|Defunct||November 6, 2018|
|Products||Digital Media, Merchandise, Broadcast, Advertising Media Network, Apps|
|Owners||ABS Capital Partners (36%)|
Wellington Management Company (38%)
Number of employees
On November 6, 2018, the company ceased operations after its assets were frozen by creditors leaving channels like Smosh without a company. Several former employees blamed poor financial management, while high overhead from YouTube, legal troubles, overly-aggressive expansion, and a shrinking advertising market were also described as contributing factors.
Alloy, Inc. (also known as Alloy Online) was founded in 1996 by James K. Johnson and Matthew Diamond as a holding company for Alloy, a teen-oriented magazine and website. By the time the company went public in May 1999, the website earned $15.5 million in monthly revenue and 1.3 million registered users. In January 2000, they purchased book publisher 17th Street Productions, renaming it Alloy Entertainment.
Alloy's additional early assets included Delia's (acquired 2003, spun-off in 2005), CCS.com (acquired 2000, sold to Foot Locker in 2008), and Channel One News (acquired 2007, sold to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2014).
In 2009, Alloy created a division called Alloy Digital Networks to hold its online properties.
Alloy was then made private through acquisition by an investment group led by Zelnick Media Capital in 2010, and was re-incorporated as Alloy Digital in 2011. Within the next two years, Alloy Digital acquired Smosh, Themis Media (parent company of The Escapist and WarCry Network), Generate LA-NY, and Clevver Media. Zelnick also sold Alloy Entertainment to Warner Bros. Television in 2012.
Merger and investmentEdit
In October 2013, Alloy Digital and Break Media merged to become Defy Media. The deal was brokered by RBC Capital Markets, and the resulting entity was owned in part by Zelnick Media, ABS Capital Partners, and Lionsgate.
Viacom purchased a stake of Defy Media in 2014, in exchange for ownership of GameTrailers, Addicting Games, and Shockwave. In 2016, Defy settled a $70MM investment by Wellington Management Company, and Zelnick Media exited from investment in 2017.
In March 2018, Defy Media laid off 8% of its headcount, exiting its programmatic advertising and video licensing and syndication businesses. In June, multiple publishers claimed that Defy had not paid them for advertising. One of those publishers, Topix, filed a lawsuit for $300,000.
On November 6, 2018, Defy Media announced that it was shutting down operations effective immediately and laying off all employees at its Beverly Hills production office. Less than a day after this announcement, the company's assets were frozen by creditors.
Former employees and executives blamed poor financial practices and unrealistic investments. An over-reliance on major social media platforms and changes in market-space for new media were also described as contributing factors.
Defy Media's former Head of Audience Development, Matthew "MatPat" Patrick, stated that the company stole $1.7 million dollars from him and other YouTubers. He claimed that the company was a Ponzi scheme and was using YouTube creators' money in order to look more attractive to outside investors.
Defy Media owned and operated online brands including Smosh, Shut Up! Cartoons, Smosh Games, Clevver Media, Break.com, The Escapist, AddictingGames.com, Gurl, MadeMen, CagePotato, The Warp Zone and Chickipedia, with some brands being inherited from Break Media. Each of these brands operated a dedicated website and YouTube channel in or about comedy, filmed entertainment, news, video games, viral content, girl culture, men culture, or MMA. Defy Media's online program offerings included The Single Life, The Confession, Fashion on the Fly, Dating Rules, Chasing, Style Rules, Wendy, Style Setters, and The Sub.
According to ComScore, Defy counted more than 38 million followers among its owned brands, reaching 221 million unique visitors each month. Together, its channels reached over 80 million video viewers monthly.
Defy Media owned various brands including viral video site Break.com, MadeMen (a website about how to be a man), flash game sites AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, DIY prop, cosplay channel Awe.Me, and Prank It FWD (Forward).
Over the years, Defy Media shuttered numerous websites and channels, mostly underperforming ones left over from the Alloy Digital and Break Media merger that formed the company. Among these former sites include MMA website CagePotato, Chickipedia, HolyTaco, AllLeftTuns, and TuVez. Defy Media also sold off some brands to other companies.
Shut Up! CartoonsEdit
Shut Up! Cartoons was launched as a spin-off of Smosh in April 2012. It featured original cartoons and animated videos. The channel consistently ranked in the top 25 for weekly views. Original animated series featured on the channel included Zombies vs. Ninjas, Pubertina, Krogzilla Gets a Job, Oishi High School Battle, Smosh Babies, and Paper Cuts. The channel ceased operations on June 23, 2017.
The site focuses on film and television related topics. The group also includes Screen Junkies News, formerly ClevverMovies.
ScreenJunkies is home for shows like Honest Trailers which is a series of parody trailers of films, The Screen Junkies Show which covers a variety of topics in film and television, and Movie Fights & TV Fights where cast debates various films or TV shows.
On October 6, 2017, co-creator Andy Signore was suspended by Defy Media after accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment made by female fans and coworkers became public. Several of the women also claimed that complaints made to Defy Media's HR department and management about the incidents had been suppressed or ignored by the company for several months until the women involved made the allegations public. Two days later, Screen Junkies announced on their Twitter page that Signore's employment was terminated effective immediately as "there is no justification for this egregious and intolerable behavior."
The Escapist was acquired by Alloy Digital in November 2012. It targets video-game enthusiasts. In 2008, the site won a Webby Award and a People's Voice Award. The website generates 28 million page views each month. In 2012, The Escapist launched the Escapist Expo in Durham, North Carolina. The second annual took place in October 2013.
Clevver Media was founded in 2006 by Michael Palmer and Jorge Maldonado and acquired by Alloy Digital in June 2012. The millennial target platform operates five entertainment and celebrity-focused YouTube channels, including ClevverTV, ClevverMusic, ClevverNews, ClevverStyle and ClevverTeVe. Clevver Media ranks in the top 10 YouTube networks, according to ComScore. Joslyn Davis serves as the executive producer. Hosts/producers have included Deidre Behar, Tatiana Carrier, Lily Marston, Erin Robinson among others. The Clevver brand is the second-largest YouTube channel group for sponsor content in the Defy Media group of brands. Employees Erin and Joslyn also appeared on the 28th series of The Amazing Race.
Gurl was an online community that covered a variety of teenage-girl issues including life, love, sex, health, and friends. The website also included channels Crushable, The Gloss, The Grindstone, Mommyish and Blisstree, and was also part of the Clevver Network.
On February 15, 2019, Hearst Magazines announced that it has purchased Clevver Media.
Smosh was founded in 2005 by Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla and acquired by Alloy Digital in July 2011. The channel's core demographic is people ages 12–24. The SMOSH.com website measures 1.5 million visitors monthly. With shows like Every [Blank] Ever, The Big What If, and its sketches, Smosh was called the Saturday Night Live of the Internet by Time in 2006. Smosh spin-off channels include the defunct Shut Up! Cartoons, Smosh Games, Smosh Pit, and El Smosh.
Smosh Games was launched as a spin-off of Smosh and relaunch of ClevverGames in September 2012. Hecox and Padilla teamed up with various online gamers to play games, provide reviews and updates, and share commentary. The channel contains gameplay videos and a gaming variation of Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers called Honest Game Trailers. The YouTube channel achieved 1 million subscribers within three months of launching. It has gained more than 350 million video views.
On November 12, 2018, the Smosh cast released a video announcing that production of Smosh, Smosh Pit, and Smosh Games content was still ongoing, and that existing videos would be finished and other content would be continued to be released independently by Smosh on their YouTube channels. They subsequently joined Mythical Entertainment after their company was purchased by Rhett and Link.
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