Vox Media Snaps Up Real Estate Porn Site Curbed.com: $20 to $30 Million

logo-national-156x59Talk about buying a mansion!  Vox Media, one of the country’s “largest and fastest growing online publishers,” snapped up the popular real estate site along along with it’s food porn blog, Eater, and Racked, which focuses on all things clothing and design. In other words, all the things we are nutso about. Based in Washington DC and New York City, Vox owns and operates sites in distinct vertical (a group of similar businesses and customers engaging based on specific and specialized needs, usually on-line) categories: sports, technology & culture, gaming, and now dining & nightlife, shopping & fashion, plus my fave design & real estate.

131015112058-vox-media-620xaVox Media, says Fortune,  has grown its combined audience by a whopping 88% over the past year to nearly 57 million unique visitors:

Bankoff (Jim, Vox CEO) is betting that he can do for Curbed what he has successfully done for Vox Media’s three existing major brands: SB Nation is a collection of blogs that draws sports fans. Polygon.com features videogame news and features. And TheVerge.com, which is just two years old,* has distinguished itself for smart reporting on consumer technology.

Curbed, which has 5 million monthly unique visitors, was started by a Brown University graduate named Lockhart Steel who was simply obsessed with real estate. (Sounds familiar!) Initially, his site was a hobby as he wrote and edited secrets about the greatest real estate market in the world, New York City.

His blog details Gotham’s neighborhood secrets — from where the city’s largest rats are (reportedly in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene section) to the future of the Apple Bank building on the Upper West Side (it may be going co-op). The tidbits he gathers often rankle realtors. Jonathan Phillips, for example, who represents 275 Water St. for Halstead, says brokers don’t misrepresent properties, and he’s quick to point out that Steele never contacted him for comment.

Steele, said Bloomberg, culled through “150 other blogs and dozens of readers’ tips daily to update his blog, posting photos, rants, and queries. The onus is on readers to shape the conversation by sending him tips, notes, and responses.” He was also a managing editor at Gawker.

Bloggers!Curbed has sites in at least 16 cities, including Vancouver and a site called Curbed Ski, which I always felt was a rip-off of my vacation home site, SecondShelters.com. (Kidding. Ha!) I have no doubt Curbed Sea will follow. Curbed has made noises about coming to Dallas, and I, in fact, met with editor Sarah F. Cox (above!) in Dallas last month, even took her to the D Magazine Best Doctors party. Darling girl! She was in Austin and Dallas scouting talent for Curbed. I have been told by a solid source, so this is not confirmed, that San Francisco internet entrepreneur Bradley Inman (Inman News, Vook, HomeGain.com, TurnHere.com) invested one million dollars into Curbed. Smart man that Bradley Inman.

Tonight I was at dinner with two other digital real estate entrepreneurs from NYC who told me the news. As one of them said, you can tell where investors clearly think the future is — in digital news, on line.

I do not see anyone out there racing to pay $20 million for a newspaper or magazine, do you?

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