Jomboy Media recently announced a raise of $5 million (valuation details were not disclosed). Connect Ventures, an investment partnership between Creative Artists Agency and New Enterprise Associates, led the round. WWE, Reddit co-founder and executive chairman Alexis Ohanian and a collective of professional athletes (including Noah Syndergaard and Karl-Anthony Towns) have joined Connect as new investors in the fast-growing media company. Founder Jimmy “Jomby” O’Brien said the company would use the capital to grow its C-suite (including hiring a CEO) and to add talent. “I want to find promising talent that we can help nurture and develop…and we can get great talent [with the money] it helps break down the walls in some other sports” (which will also open up new revenue opportunities).
Taken from JWS: Jomboy Media is a popular brand for baseball content. The company’s YouTube channel has more than 1.5 million subscribers, its Twitter accounts collectively garnered more than 500 million impressions in April and, according to Chartable, Jomboy produces and distributes five of the top 17 baseball podcasts in the states. States (including the best talk about baseball).
Jomboy has built a growing legion of fans by taking a different approach to sports content creation. “We don’t yell and shout about opinions that everyone knows we don’t actually have,” O’Brien said. “It has become a very tired formula, although [it can be] very entertaining at times.
Instead, the brand treats the game like a game. “There’s a casualness about us, a lack of seriousness that resonates with people,” O’Brien said.
Jomboy’s overall philosophy is “fun over fun”. O’Brien believes the mindset sets the right tone for the content the brand wants to produce. “We are not actors. When you try to be funny, it’s hard. It puts pressure on you. Sometimes the easiest laugh is knocking someone else down. That’s not who we are. It’s a lot less strenuous of a task than just having fun.
Baseball is often criticized for being too slow and boring, the antithesis of fun. O’Brien acknowledges that it may be “some of those things”. But he says there are also “complexities and conversations that are just great,” and Jomboy strives to bring them to light.
O’Brien began creating content for social consumption (think: in-game GIFs, one-minute game recaps) as a hobby during the 2017 MLB season, two years after MLB relaxed its position on fan-generated content. Once the “Jomby” account picked up some traction (~1,000 subscribers), he added a podcast. College friend Jake Storiale was brought in to co-host.
After that season, O’Brien was approached with $25,000 and an offer to quit his day job to host. Talking about ricans full-time (he was then working as an event videographer). He took it and spent the 2018 MLB season “throwing things against the wall and creating content,” he said. “We did well. We survived.”
O’Brien took on a second seed investment of $25,000 in early 2019. The duo spent the first half of the 2019 MLB season working tirelessly to produce content and earned ‘no silver”. But they put in place the infrastructure that would ultimately allow them to capitalize on a pair of marquee moments later in the season – the ejection of Yanks manager Aaron Boone from a game in which he told the referee that his guys were “savages in the box,” and the discovery of the Astros’ signal-stealing trash can scam.
“When the ‘savage in the box’ moment came, we knew exactly how to handle it,” O’Brien said. “We brought out T-shirts. We had tweets. We had videos on all [of the] social media platforms within an hour of the event… Then when the Astros moment happened, again, the same thing. Jomboy’s reach has expanded beyond the Yankees fanbase, transcended the internet, and made its way into mainstream media. O’Brien appeared on ESPN and a host of local sports radio networks in the days that followed.
A number of investors have become interested in backing the burgeoning business. O’Brien and Storiale opted to take $300,000 from a group led by Crypt TV CEO and co-founder Jack Davis, which they used to secure a “shoebox office in the Bronx” and staff it with five employees.
“Then COVID hit, and we were shut down,” O’Brien said. The company made it through the lockdown period by expanding into other verticals (think music, story).
When the abbreviated 2020 MLB season finally began, Jomboy was eager and ready to launch baseball content again. “Six [one-hour] shows a minimum, every day, six days a week,” O’Brien said. The hard work paid off. “We have tripled the turnover. We tripled the audience. We have tripled the merchandise. We have tripled everything.
Satisfied with the annual growth, Davis’ group exercised an option to increase its investment (to $1 million). Jomboy used the extra capital to hire more in Season 21 (including former MLB player and investor Trevor Plouffe). The company increased its sales to around $6.5 million last year.
Now armed with an additional $5 million, 25 new employees and a strategic investor in Connect Ventures, Jomboy is ready for the next step. “[Connect has] the assets and history of building the business that could help us in many areas [endeavors]It should be noted that several CAA client athletes participated in the most recent round. Davis is the link to Connect Ventures.
Adam Friedman (investor, Connect Ventures) said at the time of the deal that O’Brien’s “ability to become the ‘voice of the people’ is just the beginning, and only a small part of his larger vision. wide of what we all think Jomboy Media will become.”
Sales of branded content made up the bulk of Jomboy’s revenue for 21 years. O’Brien thinks he can build an equally meaningful merchandise business and plans to hire an “e-commerce manager” to supervise her. The company will seek to license more of its content (see: deals with Amazon’s live radio app, Amp and YES Network) and test the waters on other potential revenue streams (eg. example, branded drinks).
It’s no coincidence that Jomboy Media’s business plan is very similar to the one used by Barstool. O’Brien consumed a lot of Barstool content while in college and drew inspiration from the sometimes-controversial output of sports and pop culture. “The barstool kind of set the map for [digital content companies like ours] growing up…and even Dave [Portnoy] be very transparent behind the scenes of how he did it [was helpful].”
Like Barstool, Jomboy has also started to develop its own intellectual property. “We [recently] hosted a Blitzball tournament,” with Chris Rose doing play-by-play and Colorado Rockies reporter Kelsey Wingert doing the sidelines. O’Brien called it a “very professional broadcast, in a [crappy] warehouse and a group of grown men playing.
He said that sums up Jomboy’s formula: “Production value must be professional. Content should be amateurish in tone.
O’Brien may consider hosting floor hockey and mini-golf tournaments in the future. “People buy team shirts. They are invested. The ceiling above [IP can be tremendous].”
For those wondering, Jomboy’s nickname originated from a typo that occurred in a group chat over a decade ago, after someone’s phone automatically corrected Jimmy to Jommy.