Former Disney and TikTok executive Kevin Mayer is exploring a deal to roll up several independent media and entertainment companies, including Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content, sources with knowledge of the talks tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Blackstone is financing the venture and is expected to invest a minimum of $2 billion as part of an expansion of its media and entertainment holdings, says a knowledgeable source. The ambitious venture, on which Mayer is teaming with former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, would focus on a broad portfolio of companies that could span social media, influencers, music, musicians, film, television and ecommerce, the source adds.
Mayer, who is said to have tried unsuccessfully to woo Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, declined to comment. An Imagine spokesperson says the company is not involved.
If a deal comes together, it would align two of the biggest — and most controversial — personalities in the entertainment and music worlds. Silverman and a representative for Braun could not be reached for comment.
Silverman, the brash former NBC Entertainment co-chairman who brought The Office to American audiences, co-founded Propagate Content in 2015 alongside longtime business partner and former National Geographic Channels president Howard T. Owens. The producer, who took in a substantial investment from Raine Group in 2018, is behind Hulu’s Hillary Clinton documentary, Amazon’s Lore and Oxygen’s Up and Vanished.
The company also owns producer Electus, which Silverman founded more than a decade ago with backing from IAC. Through that 2018 deal for Electus, Propagate acquired a majority stake in talent management firm Artists First, which works with everyone from Kenya Barris to Will Arnett to Awkwafina.
Braun, the talent manager who has helped mold the careers of artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, has over the last few years built Ithaca Holdings into a sizable business. The group is parent company to Schoolboy Records, a label that works with Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy and Tori Kelly. Through SB Projects, he has managed Bieber, Grande, Demi Lovato, the Black Eyed Peas, Idina Menzel and others. The company also operates Sheba Publishing, a joint venture with Universal Music Group Publishing.
In 2019, Braun paid $300 million to acquire Big Machine Label Group, which works with a number of country and pop acts. At the time, investor Carlyle Group offered a new cash infusion valuing Ithaca at a reported $800 million-plus.
The deal for Big Machine sparked a public dispute with Taylor Swift, who launched the label in 2005 but has since joined Republic Records, over the ownership of her six-album recording catalog. Swift has since announced that she will rerecord all of her Big Machine albums. A re-recorded version of her 2008 album Fearless will be released on April 9.