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How France's Brut Is Building A Global Media Empire

Brut raised $75M to expand its values-driven video and audio storytelling that has become a huge hit with a young audience. In an era of divisive viral media, the company is winning with a positive message that focuses on impact and informing.

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(photo left to right: Brut co-founders Guillaume Lacroix, Renaud Le Van Kim, and Laurent Lucas. ©Benjamin BOCCAS)

If you live in France, the Brut media brand has become inescapable. Its short-form videos and podcasts are ubiquitous across social media platforms.

But what only really became clear to me last year was just how far Brut had extended its reach around the world. This seemed improbable on several levels. Most of its content was in French. The media market is already oversaturated with viral content. Yet somehow, this Paris-based startup founded in 2016 managed to break through and find a global audience.

That momentum was confirmed yesterday when the company raised a $75 million Series C round of venture capital. Just as intriguing as the money is the lineup of investors: James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, François-Henri Pinault’s Artemis, Orange Ventures, and global asset manager Tikehau Capital.

“In just a few years, Brut has established itself as a key player in the French and European media ecosystem, especially among young people," Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, said in a statement. "Thanks to an innovative business model based on data analysis, Brut has participated in the renewal of the French journalistic scene and has created a strong bond of loyalty with its audience. We are happy to support Brut in its expansion strategy to make this French know-how resonate internationally.”

Following the announcement, I spoke with Brut CEO Guillaume Lacroix, who co-founded the company with Renaud Le Van Kim and Laurent Lucas. The trio brought together backgrounds in journalism, technology, and video production. Lacroix said what united them almost five years ago was a vision for a different kind of media company that could reach people through values-driven stories that were ignored by mainstream news and told in a way that spoke directly to the lives of young people.

As it turns out, such stories strike an international chord.

"Very quickly, we saw that our videos, even in French, were consumed across the globe," Lacroix said. "We found that values have no borders. 70% of what we produce every day works across the globe. Because values, power, accountability, woman's rights, fighting any kind of discrimination, anything solution-driven, especially for generations who think their parents failed miserably with the planet and the environment, those stories are universal."

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