Kevin Mayer (Courtesy of TikTok)
Disney alums Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs are in the early stages of shopping for content companies to roll up into a larger operating company with backing from private equity giant Blackstone. High on the pair’s wish list is Scooter Braun’s media and management firm SB Projects.
A source close to the situation characterized the situation as limited to Mayer and Staggs expressing interest in a potential deal with Braun’s firm, which represents such music superstars as Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande. The source stressed that no formal negotiations have begun.
Any deal would be separate from the Forest Road Acquisition Corp. venture that Mayer and Staggs recently joined as senior advisors. Blackstone is said to have committed to funding the still-unnamed venture up to $2 billion. Mayer and Staggs would likely seek other investors.
It’s believed that any deal with Braun would be focused on the SB Projects wing of Braun’s Ithaca Holdings LLC. Ithaca’s transactions include the launch of Mythos Studios in partnership with former Marvel executive David Maisel, the acquisition of Atlas Publishing and partnerships with Jason Owen’s Sandbox Entertainment as well as Morris Higham Management.
Ithaca also has a long-standing investment in and partnership with Aubrey “Drake” Graham and Adel “Future” Nur. In 2019, Ithaca launched Raised in Space, an investment fund led by former BMG President Zach Katz. In 2020, Braun expanded on visual entertainment as FX’s “Dave” premiered to record viewership for a comedy series — averaging 5.3 million viewers. The year also saw “Justin Bieber: Seasons” become the most watched series debut on YouTube Premium, with 32.65 million global views. Partnerships with YouTube Originals continue with next month’s premiere of the docuseries “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.”
Braun’s firm made headlines in 2019 when Ithaca acquired Big Machine Label Group for more $300 million, a deal that brought Taylor Swift’s library into the company. Last November, Ithaca sold Swift’s masters for at least $300 million to Shamrock Capital.
Carlyle Group is a minority investor in Ithaca. The activity by Mayer and Staggs is a sign of the growing interest of private equity players in the value of IP, media and content assets.
Variety's Cynthia Littleton contributed to this post.