Insider Inc. Buys Majority Stake in U-M Startup Morning Brew

Shannon Beeman
October 30, 2020

MorningBrewRoss Morning Brew, a digital media company and publisher of a daily business e-newsletter for young professionals, cofounded by University of Michigan alumni Austin Rief (BBA ‘17) and Alex Lieberman (BBA‘15) recently signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Insider Inc., for a majority stake in the startup. Lieberman and Rief will retain a minority stake with an earn-out clause, which encourages them to stay and grow the business long-term.

“We set out to make business news more interesting and engaging for young people, and what we’ve created is resonating with readers,” said Austin Rief, co-founder and COO of Morning Brew. 

Austin Morning BrewIn late 2017, shortly after graduating from the University of Michigan, Lieberman and Rief raised a modest seed round to jump-start the business. The Zell Founders Fund invested $100,000 in this initial seed round for Morning Brew. 

“We’ve had the privilege of watching Morning Brew’s progress firsthand, Austin and Alex presented an attractive investment opportunity in the digital media and publishing space,” said Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute and faculty lead of the Zell Founders Fund. “The University’s entrepreneurial community has embraced Morning Brew not only because it started here, but because it has become a trusted resource for news that matters in business today.”

Going forward, the company will continue to focus its newsletters on smart analysis and aggregation of business news. Morning Brew will work on creating more original content that’s centered on analysis and insights. Its “Business Casual” podcast is growing quickly, and the team is looking to expand into more audio. “The Essentials” business lifestyle email could one day be ripe for affiliate marketing deals.

“Throughout our journey with Morning Brew we’ve been supported by the team at the Zell Lurie Institute. From our time as students to the investment by the Zell Founders Fund, ZLI has been with us every step of the way,” said Alex Lieberman, CEO and co-founder of Morning Brew.  

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