Elise Bauer started her food blog and website in 2003 with a simple purpose: to share beloved and homey recipes with family.
A refugee from Silicon Valley’s dot.com collapse, Bauer had moved back home to live with her parents in Carmichael. She was also recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
The former high-tech executive with a master of business administration from Stanford found solace in learning to cook old-fashioned favorites. Her blog was something fun to create along with the best banana bread or a juicy roast.
Little did she know how many other people would come searching for a slice of her comfort food. Some 1,600 recipes later, her pioneering SimplyRecipes.com ranks among the top online resources for home cooks. Each month, more than 6.5 million unique visitors check out SimplyRecipes.com for ideas. It’s the highest indexing cooking site for women ages 21 to 49.
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In the process, Bauer got well, bought her own Carmichael home and kept cooking.
Last month, she sold SimplyRecipes.com to Fexy Media, a Seattle-based online food publishing group that also includes Serious Eats, Road Food, The Food Lab and Relish. No terms of the sale were announced. Bauer, 55, remains as the president and creative force behind SimplyRecipes.com, but she now has the resources to help her award-winning website grow, she said.
Q: What does this sale mean for SimplyRecipes.com?
A: Now, I have an organization behind me to support growth of the company. For the last 13 years, it’s been pretty much just me. People are shocked when they learn there’s not a big staff; I have one employee for Web design and work with (two food writers).
Q: What does it mean to you?
A: This huge burden of stress is off my shoulders. The future of SimplyRecipes is now not totally up to me. It’s a site with a big impact. Millions of people have cooked from it. They want more – but it was just me! People want one new fabulous recipe a day; I usually do about two a week.
One a day may not seem that much, but try doing that as an individual – come up with an idea, research it, develop the recipe, cook, test, photograph, write, edit, publish – from scratch something new every day. I would never have time to sleep or anything else. A lot of work goes into this.
Q: Why sell?
A: It’s hard to make that decision to sell something when your heart and soul are tied into it. … The fear of selling the company was that whoever I sold it to would completely destroy it. They might lower the quality of the recipes, lower the quality of the experience. I built this and I want it honored and supported. I’ve had offers over the years, but they came from investors with no expectations. They didn’t actually care about the product; they just saw its demographics.
Fexy cares deeply about the product. They told me they didn’t want to lose that magic, and that was important to me.
Q: What’s next for SimplyRecipes?
A: Our goal is to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re starting to work on a major site redesign. …
In order for the site to grow, I need more video, social media outreach and more recipes. I’m now able to offer this with Fexy’s help.
Carmichael native started her popular blog/website as a way to share favorite recipes with family members. Her tested recipes now have fans worldwide.