One More Thing: Key Capital ponies up to fund growing Balls
Balls Media score fresh capital as it eyes further digital expansion, perhaps including sports for the ‘Sunday Business Post’
Balls Media is moving into audio and video content in “a big way”
Balls Media, the company behind popular sports website Balls.ie, has scored fresh investment from Key Capital, Conor Killeen’s investment company that is also the majority owner of the Sunday Business Post newspaper.
Balls Media was co-founded five years ago by Newstalk sports broadcaster Ger Gilroy, who also presents programmes for UTV Ireland and Setanta, along with his business partners Donald Mahoney and Brian Reynolds.
The company calls the quirky Balls.ie, which has 1.2 million unique visitors each month, its “prize pony”. It had better make some room in the stable. In May, the Balls boys also launched Theslicedpan. com, an entertainment news site that Reynolds says is already up to 750,000 users each month.
It is understood that Key Capital has made an initial investment of more than €100,000 to take a minority stake in the business, but it plans to pump in more cash at a later date to fund an expansion.
Reynolds, who confirmed that Key Capital is coming on board, says Balls is moving into audio and video content in “a big way”. It currently has about 10 full- and part-time staff, and that number is expected to rise.
One obvious option for expansion is to partner with the new digital offering of the Sunday Business Post, which has no pure sports coverage either in the newspaper or online.
Reynolds says this has yet to be discussed with the newspaper and there is nothing in the pipeline, but it’s an obvious attraction for Key Capital. Should it choose to fund expansion of the Post into sports coverage, it will have access to ready-made content from a popular source.
According to Reynolds, Balls turned down two full takeover offers in the last seven months, as media companies and investors seek out websites whose content strikes a chord with local audiences.
Last year the company raised €75,000 in funding from Enterprise Ireland and the National Digital Research Centre. It handed over about 15 per cent of the equity. That ostensibly valued the business at about €500,000.
Let’s see if Key’s cash injection can kick Balls to the next level.