BleacherReport.com and Building a $175 Million Business on Open Source
This month BleacherReport.com became only the second blog to ever sell for over $100 million.
Bleacher Report's slogan is "The Open Source Sports Network". The site is a meritocracy. Anyone can publish an article on sport. The more popular the article, the more attention and prominence it gets on the site.
Bleacher Report doesn't just use an open business model, they've also relied on open source since they started. They're a great example of using open source to build your business.
We've followed their rise closely because we did some work for them in their early years. They were wonderful, warm people to work with and fully deserve their success.
They used off-the-shelf open source tools to launch their business and then used custom open source tools to grow further. Here's a brief recap of how they did it:
Bleacher Report in 2006
BleacherReport.com launches on Joomla in late 2006. They built the site on a mix of free and $50 extensions such as Community Builder for user profiles, SEF Advance for URLs and JomComment for feedback. I doubt they launched the site on more than $2000 and a whole boat-load of enthusiasm.
Bleacher Report in 2007
We hosted the site and did some work on improving the site. The two key things we did were:
- SEO, in particular improving the metadata and the URLs. They needed to meet some cumbersome rules for inclusion that Google News had back in 2007.
- Building the first version of their author rating system. Authors get points for the traffic to their posts, the number of comments made and more.
At this point Bleacher Report is getting close to half-a-million unique visitors per month. For a few thousand dollars they've been able to prove their concept and business model. They're now able to get attract a $1.5 million investment and build a new Ruby on Rails site, completely custom-designed from their needs.
Bleacher Report in 2008
The new new Ruby on Rails site comes out of beta. Growth continues and they get a $3.5 million investment.
Bleacher Report in 2009
More sports, more design improvements and a $3 million investment.
Bleacher Report in 2010
More sports, more design improvements and $10.5 million investment!
Bleacher Report in 2011
Is now the largest independent sports site and gets a $22 million investment.
Bleacher Report in 2012
The site sells for $175M to Time Warner. Two of the co-founders we worked with on the nitty-gritty of the site are still there 6 years later. One is the VP of Business Development and the other is the VP Revenue.
Congratulations to the Bleacher Report team for riding open source all the way from an idea to huge success.