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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 17 November 2017 > Cash for Cool

Cash for Cool

Complex Networks saw the future, and it wasn’t publishing



RICH ANTONIELLO, CEO OF Complex Networks, is rattling off what he thinks about his competition: ESPN is flailing and has “the worst lifestyle coverage” he’s ever seen. GQ is just doing what Complex did 15 years ago. “The biggest challenges to me,” he says, “are not our competitors, by any stretch.”

We’re in Antoniello’s New York office, and other than the nice stash of booz, there’s nothing swank or executive it. Same for his black T-shirt and sneakers. The bro aesthetic makes sense: The 46-year-old rules a staff of 400 mostly 20-somethings, the hive mind behind one of America’s most innovative media companies.

Complex started as a fringe lifestyle publication in 2002, focusing on hiphop, sneakers and comics. It was one of the first companies to build its business around the idea that subcultures would move from the periphery into the mainstream. As its audience grew, Complex did too, evolving into a mini empire of sites and channels— including First We Feast, Collider, Pigeons & Planes, Rated Red and Sole Collector—covering music, video games, sports, fashion and food.

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POP GO THE WEASELS After centuries of indifference to or even tacit (and sometimes open) sanctioning of sexual harassment abuse or even assault, we are suddenly in the midst of a cock conflagration. Powerful men in Hollywood, politics, journalism and many other professions are being pilloried, sacked or jailed for piggish or even criminal behavior toward women. Now the monsters are finally facing their day of reckoning.