After acquiring Surfdome last year, Internet Fusion have recently acquired London-based action sports media house, Factory Media, home to titles including Whitelines, Onboard, Sidewalk, Surf Europe, Ride BMX UK, Mpora and more. We speak with Internet Fusion Co-Founder, Ian Bristow and John Wells, the head of their newly created Media Division to find out their plans for these endemic media titles and how they see retail sitting alongside media brands.
Please could we have a brief history of Internet Fusion?
Ian Bristow, co-founder of Internet Fusion:
Internet Fusion was founded in 2006 by myself, Martin Brailsford and Dominic Scott. The business grew, the team grew and using our Reactor technology platform we powered 7 e-commerce websites in the outdoor and action sports market. What makes Internet Fusion special is the staff, their knowledge of the market, and the incredible work they all put in to make us what we are today. Even though we’ve been on quite a ride in the last decade we’ve never lost that family feel.
You’ve made further big moves into action sports with the acquisition of Surfdome and now Factory Media. What’s the plan?
We’ve been involved in action sports since day one when we used to sell skateboards. We moved away from that as we grew but with the acquisition of Surfdome and Factory it’s put us right back in the middle of it again.
What is the plan for the surf, snow and skate titles of Factory?
We’ll be keeping as many titles as possible but will obviously focus on those that have a heritage and are the most well known in the UK.
Could you explain how staffing is working with the integration of Factory into IFG?
IFG have looked to take on the core team from Factory. We’re super-excited to have them join the IFG family. We’ve always focussed on e-commerce and it’s great to add a media operation to the work we do.
Where is Internet Fusion HQ’d and will Factory be moving to these premises?
The IFG Media Division will be housed in our offices in Shoreditch.
How will you be streamlining back end operations?
We’ve already got a superb marketing team based in the Shoreditch office; the Media Division will be complementing the work we already do there.
How do you feel online retail and media sit under the same house?
There are natural synergies; to be able to sell the specialist gear that we do you have to know your gear – most of our staff already have these sites bookmarked, as I’m sure most of our customers do.
Do you see online retail getting more and more involved in media?
It’s not for everyone; IFG are leveraging our buying power and scale to support action sports in the UK; many of the smaller players simply can’t provide that support.
How will you keep editorial independent from retail?
John Wells, Head of the Media Division of Internet Fusion Group:
Before joining IFG our main concern was upholding impartiality and editorial freedom. I’m happy to say the IFG team share this ethos and thus we’ve set up safeguards to prevent any conflict of interest.
Very simply we will be our own division within the wider group, managed independently, with sturdy Chinese walls. Our sole aim is operating and growing a media business, therefore our goals are unwavering; serve our audiences with useful and entertaining content and serve our advertisers/partners with great value.
There is no doubt we will be leaning on IFG’s vast resource and knowledge in the digital sphere to help propel our business further. It goes without saying that some of the group’s e-comm businesses (WebTogs.com, Surfdome.com etc.) will continue to benefit from a close relationship with us, but all work will be accounted for meaning they will be treated like any other advertiser/partner. The bottom line is our audiences must be able to trust us and be confident that our editorial decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures, or any personal interests.