October 19, 2021

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6AM City raises over $5 million, expands to 24 cities

6AM City, a newsletter-driven local news company, has raised a new round of funding north of $5 million, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: 6AM City is one of the fastest-growing startups catered specifically to local news.

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Driving the news: The Greenville, South Carolina-based company is expected to bring in $5 million in revenue this year and is projecting a 250-300% increase in revenue in 2022, its co-founder and COO Ryan Heafy tells Axios.

  • By Thanksgiving, the company will have launched in 24 cities, including several previously unannounced places, like Boston, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Sacramento, Louisville, Lexington, Kansas City, Richmond, Madison, Indianapolis, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

  • The expansion moves 6AM City this year from eight cities, mostly in the Southeast, to five new metros on the West Coast, three in Texas, and several in the Midwest.

The latest round of funding was led by the private investment office of Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • Additional funds came from media executives, including a team led by Rohit Agarwal, longtime chief product officer at CNN, and separately, Jerry Scott, former publisher of Scott Publishing.

  • Two of 6AM City’s existing investors, VentureSouth and Harbright Ventures, also participated in the newest round, which brings 6AM City’s total amount of money raised to nearly $9 million.

Be smart: The company hopes to hit 1 million email subscribers in the next few months. To prepare for its growth push, its added several new top-level hires.

  • Former president of The Hustle, Adam Ryan, has joined its board of directors and former American City Business Journals publisher and president, Emily Parkhurst, has joined as VP of content. The company is looking to hire a head of sales that will work closely with its VP of expansion, Michael Mazzara.

  • It’s currently hiring for over 30 open positions in editorial, sales, marketing and creative roles across its two dozen markets. Already, 6AM City employs over 60 people.

The big picture: Many startups and nonprofits have launched in the past few years to try to tackle the problem of local news decay across the country. 6AM City’s mission is to build something that will be sustainable long term.

  • Heafy notes in a statement that initiatives “that intersect content, commerce, and community” will be the key to developing business models that are sustainable across different communities around the country.

What’s next: 6AM City plans to launch three new products by year’s end, including a loyalty-based membership platform, a referral program for subscriber acquisition and a local commerce platform.

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