Sugar23 Raises $30 Million, Announces Key Hires
Michael Sugar (Courtesy of Terence Patrick for Variety)
Sugar23 has raised $30 million in financing and unveiled a bench of top executives that it hopes will help the company expand more aggressively into everything from talent management to podcasting.
Founded in 2017 by Academy Award-winning producer, manager and entrepreneur Michael Sugar, the company is hoping to be something of a catch-all service provider for top talent. Not only will it represent actors, artists, showrunners and filmmakers, it will also help incubate their content and set up companies and other branding opportunities. Sugar23 has a production deal with Netflix, as well as business partnerships with the likes of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Nelson Mandela Media and Time Magazine. “The desire here is to create something much more significant than a traditional services business,” Sugar told Variety. Having been behind the careers of so many artists and also seeing this from the production side, I saw a ton of white space and missed opportunities. I want to build a company that takes advantage of bringing in house all opportunities.” In addition to closing the funding round, Sugar23 has hired Dan Riedler as chief financial officer; Evan Sils as general counsel; Angela Ledgerwood as editorial director of Sugar23 Books; Mike Mayer as Head of Sugar23 Podcast Group; Cliff Spence as chief product officer; and Shelsea Jacobs as head of packaging. These senior executives join previously announced Head of Production Ashley Zalta, and Head of Unscripted David Hillman.
Riedler and Sils join Sugar and Zalta as partners in Sugar23. All told, the company has 35 employees and plans to continue hiring this year with a particular focus on building its management team.
Riedler joins Sugar23 after leading finance, strategy, investment and corporate development efforts for emerging and established entertainment, media services, esports, and technology companies. Earlier in his career, he was an executive at Warner Bros. and a consultant at Bain & Company.
Sils was formerly head of M&A legal for Credit Suisse Asset Management in New York. Ledgerwood is a former magazine editor and books columnist. Sugar23 Books will be a publishing imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).
Mayer boasts a wealth of experience as a producer, director and executive, having worked in podcasting, documentaries and features.
Spence is a creative technologist and digital product executive who has architected award-winning digital offerings and overseen several of the Apple App Store’s top apps. Jacobs spent a decade assembling and then selling film and television projects as a talent agent in Los Angeles, most recently at CAA. In addition to her role atop the Branded Content initiative, Jacobs will cover all of Sugar23’s packaging needs. Sugar23 plans to continue raising money with the intention of not just bolstering its staff and capital reserves, but also deploying the funds to buy podcasting, media, and management companies that might be available.
Before striking out on his own, Sugar was a key member of the Anonymous Content team. He produced the Oscar-winning “Spotlight” and helped shepherd the likes of “13 Reasons Why” and “I Am the Night” through their production and development.
Variety's Brett Lang contributed to this post.