Endeavor Taps Lloyd Braun to Oversee Representation (Exclusive)

Lloyd Braun - Publicity - H 2019

The parent of WME and IMG also has acquired a significant minority stake in the former ABC chief’s Whalerock Industries.

Just over a month after shelving plans for an initial public offering, Endeavor Group Holdings is bringing in an experienced entertainment executive and investing in his media firm. 

Endeavor, the parent company of talent agency WME, will become a strategic operating partner of Lloyd Braun's Whalerock Industries, the Los Angeles-based digital media company that was formerly BermanBraun. As part of the move, Whalerock CEO Braun has been named president of Endeavor's representation and management business, which, in addition to WME, includes IMG Models, The Wall Group, Art + Commerce and LENS as well as IMG's global licensing business.

Endeavor, led by CEO Ari Emanuel, did not disclose the size of its stake in Whalerock, but sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that it bought slightly less than 50 percent of the company for what one source describes as "a low price." Endeavor has an option to buy the rest of Braun's company over three years.

Braun will have about half a dozen direct reports that had previously reported to Endeavor president Mark Shapiro. Those include WME president Ari Greenburg as well as Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models, and Bruno Maglione, president of IMG licensing.

"Artists and creators have more influence and power than ever before, and I'm excited to be joining Endeavor in a role that will help our clients best capitalize on all the resources available to them across our network," Braun tells THR in a statement. "These teams are the best in the business, and I'm proud to support their continued growth."

Some observers may be surprised to see Braun, who ran ABC Entertainment from 1999 through 2004 and is credited with greenlighting Lost and Grey's Anatomy, take on this new role. But an Endeavor insider says he not only has broad experience in various aspects of the business (Braun also ran Yahoo Media, including news and entertainment properties) but can function as an elder statesman overseeing the disparate elements of the company.

The investment in Whalerock marks a new strategic turn for Endeavor, which filed IPO plans in May with hopes of raising more than $600 million. The company, which, in addition to its lucrative representation business, also owns the MMA company UFC, the Endeavor Content studio and The Miss Universe Organization, indefinitely postponed its IPO on Sept. 26, saying in a later U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it "no longer wishes to conduct a public offering of securities at this time." An insider maintains, "This has zero to do with the IPO" and says Endeavor will be making more acquisitions.

"Lloyd is an innovative, creative executive with an innate ability to identify and grow successful businesses for individuals and brands," says Shapiro in a statement. "In this new role, Lloyd will be charged with harnessing our collective resources to elevate our offerings for clients across entertainment, sports and fashion."

Whalerock began in 2007 as BermanBraun and combined film and television production with the operation of digital assets. Following the departure of Gail Berman in 2014, the company was relaunched as Whalerock with Braun as the sole leader. It produces the Discovery unscripted series Savage Builds and the Netflix competition show Hyperdrive and also operates a network of websites, including Wonderwall. In 2015, the company launched a suite of apps for the Kardashian and Jenner sisters, which offered exclusive content and other perks for a small monthly fee. The apps shut down at the end of 2018.

With Braun's move, Whalerock COO Anne-Marie O'Neill will become CEO. The company is expected to work closely with Endeavor's creative agency, 160over90.

Natalie Jarvey contributed to this report.