Mode Media used to be worth $1 billion. Now it’s shutting down.


The company that used to be called Glam Media generated $90 million last year. Now it’s out of business.

Last year, Mode Media generated nearly $90 million dollars in revenue.

Now the company is closing its doors.

The lifestyle publisher and ad network told its employees it is shutting down today, according to people familiar with the company.

It’s an abrupt end for a company that had previously cast itself as one of the web’s biggest publishers, enjoyed a billion dollar valuation and planned on going public.

Mode started out as Glam Media, a collection of sites aimed primarily at women; the company’s original CEO, Samir Arora, used to pit his company against publishers like NBC’s iVillage.

Mode/Glam’s individual sites never commanded much media attention, but the company was able to boast that it commanded significant web traffic, in part because of the network of sites it represented with ad deals but didn’t own.

Earlier this year, comScore pegged Mode as the 10th largest digital publisher in the U.S., with 137 million visitors.

In 2011, Mode/Glam acquired Ning, the social network co-founded by investor Marc Andreessen. In 2013, the company filed confidential paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public but never went through with an offering.

In April, both Arora and Andreessen left Mode’s board. Since then, the company has been run by interim CEO Jack Rotolo, but sources say it was essentially controlled by Hubert Burda Media, the German company that was Mode’s biggest investor. In June, company president Dan Lagani left.

Crunchbase says Mode raised $225 million; a source familiar with the company says that figure doesn’t include debt financing the company took on this spring.

One person familiar with Mode’s business says the company generated close to $90 million last year and had been projected to do more than $100 million this year. The timing of Mode’s shutdown is particularly surprising given that media companies traditionally generate most of their ad sales in the fall.

Over the past few years Mode had been trying to evolve from its original model, which was dependent primarily on traditional display advertising, to one that leaned on video ads and native ads.

Today its business included a network of more than 12,000 “creators” whom Mode paid to pick and promote content; now some of them are complaining on Twitter that Mode hasn’t paid them for their work.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that Mode was shuttering earlier today.

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