Celebrity Social Media Service TheAudience Sold to Al Ahli Holding Group

CEO Oliver Luckett co-founded theAudience with WME's Ari Emanuel and former Facebook president Sean Parker.

Social media startup theAudience has been acquired by Al Ahli Holding Group, the Dubai-based construction and retail conglomerate. 

AAHG is not disclosing terms of the sale but says that the Los Angeles-based social and digital content publisher will help it create new direct-to-consumer media services across its holding companies, which also include assets in the live event, media production, sports and fitness sectors. 

TheAudience was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Oliver Luckett, WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel and former Facebook president Sean Parker to help manage the social media profiles of celebrities. The company's investors included WME, Capricorn Investment Group, Guggenheim Partners and Participant Media. (Guggenheim Partners is the owner of Prometheus Global Media, which publishes The Hollywood Reporter.)

Over time, that strategy has evolved to include connecting brands with online influencers for targeted marketing campaigns. The company currently claims a network of 6,000 celebrities and influencers and says it syndicates 5,000 pieces of branded content each month to an audience of 1 billion for clients including American Express, McDonald's, Paramount, Universal and Sony. 

"Acquiring theAudience is in line with our long-term global diversification plan and will be key to the international expansion of our rapidly growing lifestyle, entertainment and digital-media portfolio," said AAHG CEO Mohammed Khammas. "theAudience will allow us to create a direct-to-consumer media company that offers innovative social-content solutions to varied industries, including live events, themed entertainment, movies and TV shows, consumer products, lifestyle and fitness." 

Added Luckett, who will remain with theAudience: "We started theAudience with a dream to become the nucleus of a global, next-generation media company. Now, the vision we've had is coming together with an incredibly forward-thinking company that will put us at the heart of live experiences, theme parks, retail experiences, comic conventions and collectibles — plus an exciting community of artists." 

AAHG owns Dubai Outlet Mall, the Middle East and Africa franchise rights for Golds Gym and launched Universal Events, an international events company that will organize the Asia Pop Comic Con events.