Zappin’s Zealot Networks Acquires ViralNova

The shopping spree by former Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin’s “digital-first” media company Zealot Networks continues with its purchase of social publisher ViralNova.

Zealot is buying ViralNova outright for an undisclosed sum, through a combination of cash, stock and earn-out. ViralNova’s management and employees — 24 people in total — will stay on with the company.

Founded in May 2013 by Scott DeLong, ViralNova has more than 100 million monthly visits across mobile and desktop and a dedicated social following of more than 3 million, according to the company.

ViralNova’s selling point is its Nova technology, which enables its writers and editors to create different types of articles quickly — including video, listicle and long-form content — as well as indentify trends and discover content across the media universe. At the moment, the technology is only employed in-house at ViralNova, but Zealot is interested in marketing it to outside publishers and other potential clients.

“ViralNova provides us with a solid and profitable foundation for building our publisher network for which we can create original content, allowing those within and outside of Zealot Networks to reach engaged global audiences with creative solutions,” said Zappin, president and CEO of Zealot Networks, in a statement. “The deal also allows our partner companies to leverage ViralNova’s successful proprietary technology, Nova, to better monetize and build audience for their clients.”

In late May, Zealot purchased a trio of Nashville-based companies (Southern Made, Kingmgmt and Gotee Records). A week later, in the first week of June, it swooped into the Big Apple to buy Northside Media, a Brooklyn-based mini-conglomerate specializing in large-scale live events, digital publishing and traditional print properties.

Other recent Zealot acquisitions include Premiere Sports & Entertainment, commercial and music video production company Lord Danger, talent management firm Converge Media Group and marketing agencies Idea Farmer, Neighbor Agency and Threshold Interactive.

Zealot’s buying spree kicked off in December when it purchased a majority stake in content licensing firm AudioMicro. Less than a week later, it was announced that U.K. broadcast ITV had invested in Zealot. At the time, Zealot said it had raised a total of $30 million, giving the company a valuation of more than $100 million. Previously, the company had raised $25 million from Zappin and a host of former Maker Studios executives and talent, which suggests that ITV’s stake is worth $5 million.

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