RALEIGH, N.C. – Having connected with some big hitters at McClatchy, Offline Media startup CEO David Shaner is looking to turn the media company’s investment into significant expansion – very quickly.

More jobs. More markets.

“We’ll be growing the team and growing our footprint into additional markets,” Shaner tells The Skinny.

Offline focuses on what it calls “hyperlocal” local news and “experiences,” targeting primarily millennials with smartphone apps. Most popular users so far have been women.

Interestingly, three of Shaner’s biggest contacts within McClatchy are women:

  • Sarah Glines, who recently was named publisher of The News & Observer in Raleigh
  • Ann Caulkins, publisher of the Charlotte Observer
  • Sarah Crosland, executive editor of The Charlotte Observer’s magazine division

McClatchy, which recently named a new CEO as part of a strategy to pub more emphasis on digital content across its 29 newspaper market, sees Offline as a tool to deliver information they believe consumers want.

“McClatchy has a deep presence in markets like Kansas City and Sacramento that are right in Offline’s sweet spot,” Shaner, who is a graduate of N.C. State, points out.

Offline, which launched in 2012 after going through The Startup Accelerator program, already has raised substantial funding from some high profile investors. And Shaner is already hiring.

“We also just brought in a new Head of Product/Chief operating officer and two additional engineers on Wednesday,” he points out. “Later in the year we’ll be looking to beef up our sales team and growth/marketing team to support scaling.”

Offline and McClatchy announced the investment early Friday. The exact amount wasn’t disclosed, although there is an SEC filing pointing to some $725,000 in debt being raised by Offline.

Shaner wouldn’t discuss details of the funding but did acknowledge that he remains majority owner.

Why McClatchy?

Asked why he chose to work with McClatchy, Shaner cites several reasons:

“We see great horizontal synergies in our business models and values.

“We serve a few of the same communities, we have complementary audiences and we’re building relationships with similar brand partners.

“Once the deal was on the table, there was rapid movement on both sides to get it done.”

Meet and greet

Chris Hendricks, Corporate Vice President  for Products, Marketing and Innovation who is based in Sacramento at McClatchy’s headquarters, got the deal rolling, Shaner recalls.

We were introduced to Chris Hendricks in August of 2016, and from there we started to unpack a few of McClatchy’s goals and Offline’s goals to figure out if there was a fit,” he explains/

“We worked closely with Andrew Pergam, McClatchy’s new Vice President of Video and New Ventures, and Julie Moos, McClatchy’s Shared News Director, to get the deal done. Andy and Julie have been amazing to work with and really share our preference to move quickly, test, and learn.”

Then there are the local contacts.

“So far we’ve been working directly with Sara Glines [at The N&O], but I expect that there will be additional points of contact as the partnership deepens.” he explains.

“In Charlotte, we’re in the early stages of working with Ann Caulkins and Sarah Crosland to explore how Offline and CharlotteFive [a website targeting millennials] can complement one another.”