Complex is a New York-based media platform for youth culture which was founded as a bi-monthly magazine by fashion designer Marc Ecko. Complex reports on trends in style, pop culture, music, sports and sneakers with a focus on niche cultures such as streetwear, sneaker culture, hip-hop, and graphic art. Complex currently reaches over 120 million unique users per month across its owned and operated and partner sites, socials and YouTube channels.
Complex has won numerous accolades, including several from Business Insider such as Most Valuable Startups in New York and Most Valuable Private Companies in the World, as well as the Silicon Alley 100 for Complex CEO Rich Antoniello. In 2012, the company launched Complex TV, an online broadcasting platform that has won numerous awards and has found great success with original shows, such as Complex News, First Look music videos, Fashion Bros and Sneaker Shopping.
Complex was established in 2002 by the founder of the Ecko Unltd. brand, Marc Ecko, as a print magazine aimed at providing young males a report of the latest in hip-hop, fashion and pop culture without regard to race. The name Complex evolved from a slogan developed to promote the Ecko website: "Ecko.complex". The idea was to create a men's magazine that combined Ecko's streetwear and hip-hop attitude along with the style of Japanese men's magazines by providing consumer guides. This was achieved by creating a magazine in two sections: one traditional magazine, and the other a shopping guide.
In 2005, Complex was joined by the former senior editor of Vibe magazine, Noah Callahan-Bever. He became editor-in-chief and chief content officer a year later; a position he still retains as of February 2014. By 2006, Complex had begun to turn a profit which allowed the magazine to consider an expansion of their online presence. In April 2007, Complex soft-launched a media network with four websites: NahRight, Nice Kicks, SlamxHype and MoeJackson.
In September 2007, Complex launched Complex Media in order to fully capitalize on the trend toward digital content. In 2010, ad sales grew 154%. According to comScore, Complex got 12 million unique hits in March 2012. This encouraged large brands such as Coors, AT&T, Ford, McDonald's, Nike, Adidas and Apple to advertise within the collective. Complex now includes over 100 sites.
In 2011, Complex acquired Pigeons and Planes, an indie music and rap blog, and brought their total sites to 51 with monthly traffic of 25 million uniques. In 2012, Complex launched Four Pins, a humorous menswear site, edited by Fuck Yeah Menswear author Lawrence Schlossman; Sneaker Report, a performance footwear site; and First We Feast, a food culture site edited by former Time Out New York food editor Chris Schonberger. In 2013, Complex launched the dance music site Do Androids Dance and Green Label, a branded content site presented by Mountain Dew. That year, Complex also acquired the sneakerhead culture magazine and website Sole Collector.
On November 4, 2013, Complex premiered a new logo and cover design on Instagram that would appear online, as well as on the December 2013 Eminem cover issue.
In 2013, Complex partnered with Mountain Dew to launch "Green Label" an entertainment and culture website. In 2014, Complex launched an NBA-themed website called "Triangle Offense" in a partnership with Bacardi rum.
In August 2014, Complex ranked #3 in the United States in a ComScore survey of unique visitors between the ages of 18 and 34 with 20.3 million in that demographic per month.
In January 2015, Complex announced its acquisition of Collider, the online source for movies, television, breaking news, incisive content, and imminent trends. Collider.com reaches over 3 million monthly unique readers (comScore, December 2014) powered by a team of ten writers, including founder and Editor in Chief Steve Weintraub.
In 2009, Complex raised $12.8 million from Accel Partners and Austin Ventures.
In September 2013, Complex secured $25 million in a second round of funding from Iconix Brand Group, who own Rocawear, Starter, Ecko Unltd. and Umbro, among others.
Complex became known early on for its double-sided covers and split format. Complex covers often combined celebrities from across music, film and sports. For example, Mos Def and David Bowie appeared together on the cover of the August/September 2003 issue. Some of Complex 's early covers included Nas (May 2002), Tony Hawk and Xzibit (June/July 2002), Ludacris and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (April/May 2003), and Mos Def and David Bowie (August/September 2003). In 2007, Complex gave Kim Kardashian her first ever magazine shoot and cover. Complex has since expanded to interactive digital covers. Most of the covers of Complex magazine demonstrate a distinct difference in how male and female stars are portrayed. Women featured on the covers are frequently shown in various states of undress and seductive poses. Male stars are typically shown fully clothed.