With Acquisition of Complex, NTWRK Plans to Create a ‘Next Gen Content and Shopping Experience’

Screenshot of NTWRK homepage.

Buzzfeed has sold youth culture media company Complex to livestream shopping platform NTWRK, which plans to use the acquisition to build a “next generation content and shopping experience.”

The sale of Complex was part of a larger restructuring at Buzzfeed that also included the layoff of 16% of its workforce, as the company looks to find its way back toward profitability amid a challenging media climate.

Complex will now be merged with NTWRK to create a “cultural commerce, content and experiential platform,” said NTWRK in a statement. Universal Music Group (UMG), an investor in the new company, also will serve as a strategic partner by bringing its artists to the new platform, beginning with its Interscope Geffen A&M (IGA) and Capitol Music Group labels. Together the partners promise to “deliver an industry-leading and culture-moving” experience as well as exclusive collaborations on the NTWRK platform.

“This partnership will give our artists access to a dynamic network to deepen connections with superfans through unique collaborations and cultural moments,” said John Janick, Chairman and CEO of IGA, who will also serve on the board of the new combined company, in a statement. “We share a collective vision on how D2C, experiential brand partnerships and content are mutually reinforcing cornerstones of the fan experience.”

NTWRK already is known as a platform that brings together “superfans” through access to exclusive products across sneakers, streetwear and collectibles with livestream shopping experiences and product drops. With the addition of content from Complex and music from UMG, the company hopes to create “a new destination for superfan culture.”

“We’re witnessing a pivotal trend unfold as media outlets recognize the power of aligning with digital shopping platforms,” said Vincent Yang, CEO and Co-founder of livestreaming platform Firework in comments shared with Retail TouchPoints. “The fusion of content and live shopping creates an immersive experience tailored to the tastes of today’s digitally savvy consumers. This acquisition signifies a strategic evolution for media companies seeking to thrive in an ever-changing landscape, where traditional models are giving way to innovative approaches.”

The new combined company will be led by Aaron Levant, who co-founded NTWRK with Jamie Iovine and Gaston Dominguez-Letelier in 2018 and has served as CEO since its inception. Levant already has extensive experience working with the Complex brand — he helped co-create the media brand’s fan festival ComplexCon alongside Complex’s founder Marc Eckō in 2016.

“Complex has been a beacon of culture and innovation for over two decades,” said Levant in a statement. “My journey with Complex began as an admirer of their original magazine in 2002 and it has now come full circle as I step into the leadership role. Alongside this impressive team, we will create the definitive global content, commerce and experiential platform of convergence culture.”