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Founded while $50K in debt, entrepreneur sells digital media firm for $100M

Kyle Taylor launched The Penny Hoarder in 2010.

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  • | 3:31 p.m. December 21, 2020
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ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder, a financial advice digital media business founded a decade ago by entrepreneur Kyle Taylor, who, at the time, was $50,000 in debt, has been acquired for more than $100 million. 

Salt Lake City-based Clearlink, a digital marketing subsidiary of Tampa-based outsourcing giant Sykes Enterprises, acquired Taylor Media Corp., owner of The Penny Hoarder, according to a statement. Clearlink, the release states, will buy the stock of The Penny Hoarder — which did some $50 million in revenue in 12 months through Sept. 30 — in an all-cash deal for $102.5 million. Clearlink will fund the acquisition through both financing and cash on hand.

A highly-recognized entrepreneur in the St. Pete tech scene, Taylor, a 2016 Business Observer 40 under 40 winner, will remain with the company. The Penny Hoarder employees have also been offered a job with the new owners.

“This acquisition marks a significant milestone and validation of hard work from The Penny Hoarder team,” Taylor says in the statement. “We’re excited to have found a partner in Sykes who believes in our mission of helping consumers make better financial decisions. The financial services industry is changing rapidly and consumers need an ally in navigating this new economy more than ever. Our partnership will give us a leg up in meeting these challenges while providing more opportunities for our employees and advertisers. We couldn’t be more thrilled to join the team.”

Today The Penny Hoarder is known for an extensive content library and expertise within personal finance focused on millennials. That expertise, in turn, has facilitated partnerships with a vast network of clients across the credit, investing, banking and insurance categories, the release states.  

But a decade ago, Taylor was deep in debt when he launched a blog and wrote posts that chronicled clever ways for cash-strapped people to both make and save money. Back then he was living in Maine and working in politics as part of the AFL-CIO's field and fundraising teams. He soon moved to the Tampa area, where he had partially grown up, and began to turn the blog into a viable business. Entities such as Oprah Winfrey, Woman's World magazine, Good Housekeeping and NPR wrote about what Taylor was doing with The Penny Hoarder, giving him a national platform.

The company’s growth exploded between 2013 and 2017, growing from under $1 million in revenue to $37 million. Most of The Penny Hoarder’s revenue stems from branded content that reaches some 17 million per readers per month, including nearly 7 million likes of the Penny Hoarder Facebook page. Some of its big-name advertising clients, at one point, have included Uber and Lyft and Sam's Club. The company also brings in revenue by creating advertising campaigns that encourage readers to sign up for a client's email newsletter, download a client's app or register for a client's service. 

The Penny Hoarder has also overcome several obstacles in recent years, including dozens of layoffs in 2019 due to falling revenue that came out of changes to Facebook’s algorithms and other issues. The company has also had to file copyright infringement lawsuits to fend off copycats and defend its intellectual property.

For Clearlink, the acquisition, the release states, extends the firms reach in the financial services industry, while also adding additional expertise in paid media marketing. “Through our Clearlink Digital Media group, we are focused on building a portfolio of digital media assets that help consumers find, buy and use products and services that improve their everyday lives,” President and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Sykes says in the statement. “TPH advances this initiative by expanding our portfolio into the very large market of personal finance. The insights, knowledge and expertise that we gain through the TPH transaction will not only enable us to help consumers make informed decisions about financial products and services, it will also help us strengthen the brand and growth of financial services clients all over the world.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2020. Investment bank JEGI | CLARITY represented The Penny Hoarder in the transaction, while Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP served as Sykes’ legal advisor. Sykes did $1.61 billion in revenue in 2019.



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