Russell Simmons' All Def Digital Secures a New $10M in Financing

Russell Simmons - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Russell Simmons - Getty - H 2016

The young media company focusing on urban youth culture has attracted the attention of Third Wave Digital Partners, among other investors.

Russell Simmons’  All Def Digital on Wednesday announced that it has raised $10 million in a Series B financing led by Third Wave Digital Partners, new media investor Allen DeBevoise’s venture capital firm which focuses on new digital media companies. Other investors in the round include holding company WPP through WPP Ventures and the firm of Andreessen Horowitz, as well as all of ADD’s existing investors: Nu Horizons, Greycroft Partners, eVentures and Advancit Capital.

The announcement was jointly made by ADD CEO Sanjay Sharma and Simmons, who serves as co-founder and chairman of the new media brand built around urban youth programming.

Founded in 2013 as a YouTube multichannel network combining music, comedy, poetry, news and art, the company has since explained across multiple platforms, claiming more than 100 million fans months across YouTube and Facebook. It produces and distributes original content through its own media properties, social channels, premium television, theatrical motion pictures, live events and multi-faceted brand partnerships through its newly established in-house creative agency, ADHD. ADD also operates a curated network of emerging and established talent including social video stars, stand-up comics, writers, actors, poets and hip-hop recording artists. 

“For the next phase of growth, we chose investors who understand what we are building at All Def across all media — from digital series to live events, from Facebook to premium series and feature films,” Simmons said in a statement.

Added Sharma: “Our partners — the most important and influential firms in media, marketing and technology — share our vision that cultural and demographic shifts, coupled with the massive disruption of the traditional media industry by online video, social and mobile, create a singular opportunity for us to create a new class of data-oriented media business. Hip hop is a global cultural movement touching all aspects of life, from music to art to fashion, to language itself, and at the very heart of youth culture. Millennials and Gen Z are the most demographically diverse cohorts in history, incredibly influential and equally hard to reach through traditional media.”

ADD said it will use the financing to accelerate its audience growth and distribution efforts and its original programming in comedy, music, sports, news and poetry, as well as branded entertainment and multidimensional sponsorships

ADD has expanded its collaboration with HBO to include a first-look deal with the premium cable channel and currently is in preproduction on All Def Comedy Live, scheduled to air this fall. It recently announced its expansion into music programming through a launch partnership with Spotify, part of the premium music service’s entry into original video programming. ADD also has closed a partnership with Seeso, NBCU’s direct-to-consumer over the top subscription app for comedic programming, as well as a partnership with Fusion, Univision’s cable and digital network focused on diverse millennials, for the All Def Movie Awards. The company recently announced its latest franchise, the All Def Comedy Roast, the first of which will be produced later this year and feature Snoop Dogg as the inaugural guest of honor. The company’s early expansion into social justice programming includes its first Town Hall series, hosted by Melissa Harris Perry and Nick Cannon, which was released exclusively through Facebook Live.

“With hugely impressive growth, retention and engagement metrics, All Def Digital is quickly scaling and poised to become the most important and influential brand for urban youth culture in America, and around the world — that’s the reach of hip hop,” DeBevoise said as part of the announcement.