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Group Black aims to ‘transform ownership of media and investment,’ CEO says

Group Black Co-Founder & CEO Travis Montaque joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss investing in diversity, creating wealth for the Black community, and transforming media investment and ownership.

Video Transcript

- While as the nation celebrates Juneteenth, Black-owned media businesses hope to gain more traction. And Group Black has a goal of staking at least $500 million in Black-owned media by the end of this year. Joining us now is group Black co-founder and CEO Travis Montaque. Travis, it's great to have you on the program this morning. Tell us a little bit more about Group Black, kind of what your initiatives are, types of media that you hope to channel this funding into, and ultimately what you hope to get out of it.

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: Yeah. Well, first of all, Brian, thank you for having me. To give you a quick background on Group Black, Group Black is about creating more wealth for the Black community than ever before. And our mission is very simple. It's to dramatically transform the face of media ownership and investment. And the reason why that's important is because we believe that amplifying diverse voices is essential to society, and we do that by doing three things. One creating access, which is indicative of the 500 million-- nearly 500 million we already have committed from brands and with Group Black and our collective, to building infrastructure to support these businesses, and lastly invest.

Invest in these businesses, but also invest in infrastructure that helps them grow.

- And now, when you talk about infrastructure, it's interesting because obviously there's more to media broadly than just news channels, but Black News Channel folding earlier this year was a blow to the industry, I'm sure. I mean, when you see the infrastructure, what do you think led to things like that, and what are you hoping to do to make sure that future aspirational media startups and companies don't end up meeting the same fate?

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: Quite simply, businesses have not spend the appropriate amount of money with Black-owned media businesses. And just recently, we've seen a lot of businesses pledge to make more larger spends, increase spends with Black-owned media businesses. But the appropriate infrastructure to be able to absorb those dollars haven't been there. So for us, it's building all of the teams, the infrastructure, the resources that supports these businesses to actually deliver on those dollars and grow the region and audiences that they touch every single day.

- So give us some examples of, I guess, some media properties that you're working on and investing in. I mean, I look at the 150 Black-owned media brands that you have here on the list, Essence, Shade Room, Reach TV. Is there a running theme through all of those types of things? Or are you really kind of scattering across a wide array of different types of companies?

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: So Black-owned media reaches all-- touches all different verticals, everything from digital to television. And it also reaches all audiences, not just Black. So we have all of those in our collective. Everything that from Black targeted audience to general market, and we support all of them. At the core, our mission is to provide these businesses with access to the media dollars that will help expand their businesses. It's about-- and that's really anchored around access. The second thing is the infrastructure, so everything from measurement, to sales support, to technology and tools.

And then the investment, right? We're still at the point where 1% of investment goes to Black founders. And so, we have to change that narrative as well. And that's what we focus on for our collective and with the industry.

- And when you talk about audiences that are not Black that maybe your media properties do reach out to, I mean, there's a massive amount of education, I imagine, that's kind of part of the initiative there. I mean, even Juneteenth being the first year officially as a US holiday this year, there's still a lot of misinformation out there and just confusion over what Juneteenth is for people that maybe aren't Black. I mean, how does that factor into the mission and kind of what you're looking for as you continue to expand?

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: Yeah. Well, Black culture influences pop culture and general market community overall. And so that is part-- you're absolutely right, that is part of the learning that we push for. That way, the companies in our collective could access larger dollars more so than and beyond the only multicultural budgets that a lot of them get access to today. The general market budgets are way larger, the ad dollars they are way larger, and so we push to ensure that companies that have an outsized impact on culture will receive outsized value for the types of content that they create.

- Can we talk about that, I guess, the advertising side of all of this because you might be helping companies get the funding that they need to build out the infrastructure, but at the end of the day, they can only have longer-term success if there is a reliable source of revenue coming in, which for most media companies is advertising. Is there enough ad dollars coming in from any type of industry, any type of demographic, into Black media in 2022?

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: So, if you look at the amount of dollars that have been pledged, the media industry have effectively pledged to invest 8% by 2025. That is nearly $30 billion to be spent with Black-owned media each year. The current state, there's less than $2 billion in Black-owned media inventory that exists today. And so, we have to invest in growing the ecosystem. The brands that work with us understand that and are backing that mission that we have. And the growth in the access to more audiences, more voices, which we seek to provide, and the investments that grew Black will make. We are investing in companies, but we are in market looking to acquire scaled assets that are collective will be able to take advantage to grow their businesses so that we could continue to get closer to the $30 billion that the market has pledged to diversify to in the years coming.

- And then lastly, here, you have $500 million that you hope to deploy this year. Where does the money come from in terms of where you're able to source that fund of money. Do you have corporate partners that kind of are with the mission here, and supporting your ability, given the network that you have to deploy that capital, I guess how are you doing fundraising yourself?

TRAVIS MONTAQUE: Yeah, so we have brands that have-- brands like Procter & Gamble, for example, that have done nine big year deals with us to spend with our collective over the next several years. And that's meaningful for our collective so that we could ensure that they're being invested in. We as a company are out of the market raising money to make more investments in line with the things that we're trying to achieve as a company.

- All right. Group Black co-founder and CEO Travis Montaque. Thanks so much for stopping by. Looking forward to see the growth of the company. Appreciate it.

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