'We're an anomaly': Complex Networks ignored the digital media playbook and now it's on track to make at least $200 million this year, profitably


It’s a gloomy time for digital media, but not for Rich Antoniello.

While headlines scream about other digital media companies trying to cut their way to profitability, hanging for-sale signs, and selling at fire-sale prices, Complex Networks, a 17-year-old, digital video-driven media company focused on sneakers and youth culture, looks like an anomaly.

Complex has been profitable since 2010 and is on track to be in the black again this year, with revenue projected to grow close to 20%, according to Antoniello. Complex has diversified its revenue mix and now gets half its revenue from outside advertising.

“We’re an anomaly here,” Antoniello told Business Insider.

It did this by avoiding a lot of the playbook that’s driven digital media in the past several years.

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It didn’t take a ton of venture funding that can accelerate a media company’s rise but also set unrealistic growth expectations. Complex Networks raised just $40 million in its first 12 years, in contrast with other digital media darlings like Vice Media, which raised $1.4 billion; and BuzzFeed, $500 million. Without the growth pressure tied to VC funding,