Kevin Hart launches HARTBEAT, a global cross-platform media company, with an investment of $100 million

Entrepreneur, executive and pioneering artist Kevin Hart recently announced the creation of HARTBEAT, a global, multi-platform media company creating entertainment at the intersection of comedy and culture with a mission to make the world laugh together. After more than a decade of leveraging his individual success to build two profitable, high-growth businesses – Laughing and Hart Beat Productions – Hart has now combined these entities to create the #1 source for storytelling and comedic experiences with HARTBEAT. Next-Gen Media Company Brings Together Hartbeat Productions’ Best-in-Class Television and Film Production Capabilities with Laugh Out Loud’s Extensive Distribution Network, Marketing, Sales, Experiential, Branded Content, Digital and Social Capabilities .

HARTBEAT launches with $100 million investment from private equity firm Abry Partners, who took a minority stake in the new company. As part of this agreement, Nicolas Massard, partner of Abry Partners, will join HARTBEAT’s board of directors. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which signed a multi-year first look deal and took a stake in Laugh Out Loud in 2020, will remain a shareholder.

With this funding, HARTBEAT plans to expand its team, accelerate the growth of existing brands and franchises, create new intellectual property that connects to a global audience, and leverage the creative engine, relationships and resources. from HARTBEAT to collaborate with today’s most influential stars and burgeoning comedic talent. in front and behind the camera.

The existing Hartbeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud management team will continue to oversee day-to-day operations. Stag will act as President and Thai Randolph, who led the fundraiser and served as president and chief operating officer of Laugh Out Loud and chief operating officer of Hartbeat Productions, was promoted to lead the new entity as CEO. Hartbeat Productions’ Brian Smiley will transition to President and Chief Content Officer, with LOL Jeff Clanagan become president and head of distribution. Co-founder of HartBeat Productions Leland Wigington will move to run a new production banner under HARTBEAT.

“The creation of HARTBEAT and our fundraising with Abry mark a new era in comedy. It all started with a mission to make the world laugh together and I’m so proud that our teams have achieved that, working hard to create the most innovative and inclusive comedy storytelling company,” says Hart. “In an industry that likes to say no and close doors, I’ve been optimistic about charting our own course and using our success to open doors for others. With this merger and funding, we are taking the new blueprint we have built in entertainment to the next level and creating opportunities for a new generation of comedic talent. I look forward to bringing more comedians, experiences, and stories with humor and heart to the world.

“We have grown our business in an ever-changing media landscape bringing comedy to audiences where and when they want to laugh, and have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to drive sales, subscriptions and eyeballs for some of the best entertainment partners. and branding around the world, while driving cultural currency and conversation among some of the most coveted audiences,” said CEO Thai Randolph. “At HARTBEAT, we are building an end-to-end entertainment company that creates, markets and distributes the most culturally relevant intellectual property and experiences in comedy and beyond. The merger and fundraising help us scale and invest in the future of comedy entertainment, creating more high-demand content and experiences at the intersection of comedy and culture.

HARTBEAT operates under three divisions:

  • HARTBEAT Studios, led by Bryan Smiley, finances, develops and produces film, television and content at the intersection of comedy and culture
  • HARTBEAT Media, led by Jeff Clanagan, connects with consumers around the world through events, games, music publishing, Web3 initiatives and an extensive distribution network
  • PULSE, the company’s branded entertainment studio, serves as creative and cultural advisor to brands including P&G, Lyft, Sam’s Club, Chase and Verizon.

Operating under HARTBEAT Media, the LOL! Network will continue to be the company’s flagship consumer brand, reaching audiences on its O&O social networks, audio partners (SiriusXM) and OTT (Peacock, Roku, Tubi, PlutoTV, Vizio, Redbox, Xumo, etc.) . In an April 2021 Conviva report that ranked the size of social media audiences on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, the LOL! Network was featured as one of the top 10 media publishers, ahead of major players like Hulu.

As a valued partner to the world’s largest entertainment companies, platforms and brands, the company’s global impact is felt in streaming, digital, audio, branded content and at the box office, including including the #1 streaming debut on Netflix (Paternity and True story); Box office launch #1 (evening school); Show #1 on Roku (Die Hart); Podcast #1 on Sirius/Pandora (Comedy Gold Minds); First #1 Branded Content with Lyf (Lyft Captions); #1 digital sports talk show (cold as balls); peacock viral success Olympic Highlightsas well as the popular Hart-hosted talk show Hart to Hart on Peacock.

HARTBEAT creates hit vehicles for A-list comedians and brings the next generation of comedic voices into the mainstream, with projects that include producing the #1 comedy series on FX, David; color comedythe global stand-up franchise featuring 300 comedians in 30 countries (Simon & Schuster, LOL! Network, Just for Laughs Festival); Amanda Seales’ smart, fun, black radio on Laugh Out Loud Radio on SiriusXM; meditate with me with Tiffany Haddish, Hasan Minhaj, Amanda Seales, Deon Cole (Headspace); Mirror Company II, Afion Crockett’s first stand-up special (LOL! Network); the Women Write Now program for black women in film writers, in partnership with Sundance; comedy legend DL Hughley’s talk show, DL Hughley: Uncut (LOL! Network on Pluto); The one and only Dick Gregory documentary with Showtime; and production and marketing experiences, including Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out Tour and Shaq Comedy All Star Jam, among other projects.

HARTBEAT is currently in various stages of development or production on over sixty projects across over 15 entertainment partners. The company also benefits from several multi-year strategic partnerships, including an unscripted first-look deal with NBCU’s Peacock, a movie deal with Netflix, a partnership with SiriusXM, and an agreement with Audible in partnership with Charlamagne Tha God through the joint venture. SBH Productions.

Upcoming projects include me time (Netflix) with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, “Storytown” (HBO Max), F. Gary Gray’s action heist Lift (Netflix), #1 on the documentary Call Sheet (Apple TV+), “Die Hart” season 2 (Roku), “So Dumb It’s Criminal” with Snoop Dogg (Peacock), and a new season of the sports conference directed by Hart “Cold as Balls” show (LOL Network).

HARTBEAT was advised in the transaction by Evolution Media Capital and a team from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP led by Entertainment Group Partner Sophia Yen.

HARTBEAT

ABOUT HARTBEAT: Founded by Kevin Hart, HARTBEAT is the global cross-platform media company that creates entertainment at the intersection of comedy and culture with a mission to make the world laugh together. HARTBEAT offers comedy through its three divisions: HARTBEAT Studios, which funds, develops and produces innovative content; HARTBEAT Media, which connects to consumers around the world through events and the company’s extensive distribution network; and PULSE, the company’s branded entertainment studio that serves as the brand’s creative and cultural advisor. HARTBEAT’s flagship consumer brand, the LOL! Network, reaches audiences through its social media, audio and OTT O&O partners.

Led by an award-winning team, HARTBEAT is a valued partner for the world’s leading entertainment companies, platforms and brands, driving cultural currency and driving sales, subscriptions, buzz and conversations with some of the most coveted audiences.

About Abry Partners: Abry is one of the most experienced and successful sector-focused private equity investment firms in North America. Since its inception in 1989, the firm has completed more than $90 billion in leveraged transactions and other private equity or preferred equity investments. Currently, the firm manages over $5 billion of capital in its active funds. For more information about Abry, please visit www.abry.com

Cathy W. Howerton