Dubai's Supercar Blondie reveals she turned down a $100m offer for media business

SB Media Group launches global auction website for high-end vehicles

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Supercar Blondie, the global media franchise brand cofounded by Dubai-based content creator Alex Hirschi, turned down an offer two years ago to buy the media side of their company for $100 million, its co-founder has revealed.

London-headquartered SB Media Group, founded in 2020 by Alex and her husband and chief executive, Nik Hirschi, has grown from a single Instagram account seven years ago in Dubai into a social media behemoth that generates more than two billion views per month from its 110 million followers.

The ultimate goal is not only to help car manufacturers design their cars but ultimately design our own car
Alex Hirschi

The company, which employs 65 people in Dubai, the UK, Prague and the US, also includes its own automotive studio, SB Design, which counts VW Group among its clients.

SB Media Group on Tuesday will launch SBX Cars, an auction website that specialises in classic cars, hypercars, supercars and special vehicles with more than $100 million in consignments, including the world’s first Mercedes-AMG One and the Hyperion XP-1 prototype, another world first.

Ms Hirschi said they turned down the multimillion dollar offer two years ago to buy the media side of their company and that they are considering raising funds this year to finance the next stage of growth.

Social media giant

The latest entity of SB Media Group is a long way from the days when Ms Hirschi was a presenter with Dubai Eye 103.8 and first started posting car reviews on her personal Instagram account in 2015.

Two years and many car reviews later, she quit her job having reached 50,000 followers on Instagram and dedicated her time to growing the business through brand collaborations.

“I just started like any other normal account. I just had my Alex Hirschi account. I wasn't posting anything but friends and family," Ms Hirschi told The National.

“I just started posting my personal experience with these incredible cars, just from more like a girl-next-door perspective, not like a full-on technical review or a car journalist’s perspective."

She went full-time in 2017 and was joined the following year by her husband, who was working at Bloomberg at the time.

"He quit his career in finance and joined in 2018 and so it was just the two of us running around the world and finding the coolest cars," she said.

In 2020, when lockdown happened and the pandemic curbed their worldwide travel plans, they set up the Supercar Blondie website and hired a team of people to gather content from various creators to feature on their channels.

The website now has a team of journalists writing articles every day on stories about cars, luxury, watches and tech. The company also has producers, editors and presenters on the social media channels.

Social media as a business has changed completely since Ms Hirschi started out.

Influencer Marketing Hub, a Danish company that tracks the social media and influencer marketing industry, said it was worth $1.7 billion in 2016. In 2022, it was worth $16.4 billion and this year it is expected to be $24 billion.

TikTok, which was launched in 2016, is the most popular influencer marketing channel (69 per cent), followed by Instagram (47 per cent), YouTube (33 per cent) and Facebook (28 per cent).

Supercar Blondie's most popular channel is Facebook with 56 million followers, followed by YouTube (18 million), TikTok (18 million), Instagram (16 million) and Snapchat (3 million).

Designing cars

SB Media Group branched out into car design last year with an office in Prague and a head designer who previously worked at Italian company Pininfarina.

"We have a team of designers who help OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] and car manufacturers design their cars," Ms Hirschi said.

One of the clients they are working with is the Volkswagen Group, which has 10 brands under its umbrella, including Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche and VW.

"It's very exciting. The ultimate goal with that is not only to help car manufacturers design their cars but ultimately design our own car," she said.

SB Media's growth so far has been through its own resources but the next phase of growth may require some investment, Ms Hirschi said.

"At the moment, we haven't had any investment, everything is self-funded and we've launched everything ourselves because obviously we want control over that," she said.

"But it is a consideration to take investment maybe later this year. It would have to be the right strategic partners and then we would go from there."

She declined to say how much the investment would be but did reveal they turned down a sizeable offer to buy the media side of the company.

"A couple of years ago we had an offer for $100 million, which we refused, so it would be a lot more than that," she said.

Auction house

The latest entity in the SB Media fold is SBX Cars, which will be launched with a collection of about 80 vehicles on the site, the average price exceeding $1 million.

Ms Hirschi said the sellers are dealers and collectors from all over the world.

"That’s basically how we came to launching this platform because I've been creating this network and these relationships with dealers and collectors all over the world because I've been hunting down the coolest cars to film," she said.

"I've been meeting them and getting to know them and also OEMs who get the cars directly from the car manufacturers for the auction site as well."

Ms Hirschi said some of the cars for sale are located in Dubai.

"We have the first ever AMG One. It's never been up for auction before," she said.

"And then there is the Lamborghini Veneno Roadster and also a Ferrari Monza SP2. And then we have a LaFerrari. So there are some beautiful cars here in Dubai as well."

SBX Cars will use the Supercar Blondie network to promote the cars ahead of each auction, guaranteeing them an audience of millions every month.

Cybertruck on order

Ms Hirschi boasts an impressive car collection of her own, which includes a Mercedes Brabus G800, Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge, McLaren 720S and a Rolls-Royce Spectre.

She has also ordered a Tesla Cybertruck that is being delivered shortly and an Ares S1 coming from Italy.

She is looking forward to finally getting the Cybertruck, for which she has waited four years.

"I just drove it [Cybertruck] in LA. It was insane. That car gets more attention than probably any car I've ever driven. It's just crazy," she said.

"Hollywood buses that take the tourists around to find celebrities would stop and take photos of the car."

Despite the bulky appearance, she said it drives really well because of the all-wheel steering.

"It's a huge car. It's a truck, but when you're turning around corners it's so agile and the turning circle is really good," she said.

"And just the drive itself felt really smooth, powerful, quick. You can see everything. I really like that car."

Updated: April 02, 2024, 12:12 PM