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Millennial CEO Talks Changes After a Startup Is Acquired

By Lou Whiteman - Jan 28, 2021 at 7:00AM

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How has Morning Brew adapted to its big-money sale?

Alex Lieberman and co-founder Austin Rief started Morning Brew in their dorm rooms six years ago, and have quickly built the brand into a go-to source for millennials seeking business news.

That hard work has caught the attention of a lot of larger media companies, and last year Insider bought a majority stake in Morning Brew in a deal that valued the start-up at a reported $75 million.

In this Jan. 16 Motley Fool Live segment, Lieberman joined with Motley Fool marketing manager Margaret Powell to discuss how the deal has changed things at Morning Brew, and how the acquisition has helped refine his leadership skills.

 

Margaret Powell: Quite notably this past year, Insider came onboard as the majority stakeholder of Morning Brew, I was hoping you could share a little bit with us about what that process has meant for the brand and the product suite?

Alex Lieberman: Yes. I feel like this answer always disappoints people, but like really nothing [laughs] has changed. It's boring. Like in the sense that, I'm sitting in the same office in my grandparents apartment doing the same exact thing I was doing six months ago. I think to most people on our team, they haven't seen the impact yet. What I mean by that is, I think they're going to be ways for Insider and the Brew to partner, where we can draft off of the resources of a billion-dollar company and then their owner who is a multibillion-dollar company. But we're in the early days of the partnership. I don't think people have seen that yet. Where I think things have changed, honestly, just more structure. Again, this is just like me being nerdy, but as a first-time founder, as somebody who is naturally creative, who naturally is like 50 thoughts going on at once, I think being forced into a little bit more structure, I think is important for me to mature as a leader. What I mean by that is like we do quarterly board meetings now. We have to present to the board, which includes Austin, my co-founder, and myself, folks from Business Insider, and we meet them biweekly as well. I think that forces Austin and I to just be a little bit more structured in our thinking, and also be more forward thinking in how we plan not just next six months for the business, for the next year, three years, and five years. Eighteen months ago, our plan was a week ahead. Like now we're truly mapping out what three years from today, revenue-wise, headcount-wise, product-wise looks like for Morning Brew, and I think the partnership is forcing us to do that. Some areas that we talk about partnering together are everything from our advertising business. How can we partner with Business Insider to sell larger, more holistic packages, getting in front of different but complementary audiences across all of our ecosystems. All the way to how can we leverage Business Insider's top of funnel of hundreds of millions of people, uniques under our website a month to drive to be Morning Brew subscribers. Those are some of the partnership conversations that we've been having.

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