Endeavor Group Holdings, which includes talent agency WME, filed to go public on Thursday.
“As the entertainment industry moves toward a closed ecosystem model with less transparency, our clients and businesses need more insight, resources and solutions than ever before,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel wrote in a letter included in the company’s prospectus filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We believe being a public company will only further accelerate our ability to look around corners and open up new categories and opportunities for those in the Endeavor network.”
In Endeavor’s 150 plus-page prospectus, the company reports that it generated $3.61 billion in revenue in 2018, and had a net income of $231.30 million after two years of losses (Endeavor had a net loss in 2016 of $98.32 million followed by a net loss of $173.16 million in 2017).
As of March 31, the company said it had $499.71 million in cash and cash equivalents, as well as $9.89 billion in total assets. Endeavor’s total long-term debt tallies $4.62 billion.
Endeavor didn’t disclose how much it plans to raise as part of the offering, but the company plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol EDR. Goldman Sachs will be the lead banker on the IPO with KKR, which helped Endeavor with its $4 billion acquisition of Ultimate Fighting Championships, serving as an additional underwriter. It also owns marketing agency 160over90, and the Miss Universe pageant.
Endeavor’s intention to go public came was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in March when it said that the company was preparing for a late-2019 IPO. The news was met with criticism as it came in the midst of tense standoff between Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America.
“It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency-to serve the best interests of its clients-with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street,” the guild said at the time.
Read Emanuel’s full letter:
In the early 1990s, I read George Gilder’s Life After Television. It changed the way I thought about content and distribution. That book was a catalyst that led me to leave a large, established talent agency to start a new and nimble one.
Industry leaders said there wasn’t room for this new ‘Endeavor,’ but we were focused on breaking new ground. We saw an opportunity to use disruption to our benefit and build a company and a platform for where the world was headed.
From the start, we knew we had to extend beyond television and become an impact player in the movie business. For that, we brought in my partner, Patrick Whitesell. Eight years later, we merged with the iconic William Morris Agency to diversify further into books, music, theater and non-scripted television. This merger launched a decade of growth for our company marked, in part, by more than 20 acquisitions — headlined by sports, fashion and media giant IMG and mixed martial arts leader UFC. These companies combined to form a platform distinguished not only by its longevity — having collectively withstood over 120 years of disruption — but also its access, scale and global network.
Content is no longer defined solely by the traditional categories on which our businesses were founded. Television, movies and live events have been joined by others including podcasts, experiences, social media, multiplayer video games and esports. Wherever you are in the world and whatever way you define content, Endeavor is likely playing a role.
As the demand for content continues growing, developing new distribution channels to complement our clients’ creative needs is essential. We’ve built a series of businesses across streaming, audio, experiences, gaming and education to ensure our clients and Endeavor are well-positioned for whatever the entertainment landscape looks like in the coming decades.
The trust that some of the world’s most influential creators and visionaries have placed in us to help guide their careers is both a privilege and a responsibility. Every decision we’ve made since those early days reflects our commitment to amplify their influence and maximize their economic potential. Our unique platform enables them to connect with each other and our IP and owned assets in ways that are far more meaningful than if approached in isolation.
As the entertainment industry moves toward a closed ecosystem model with less transparency, our clients and businesses need more insight, resources and solutions than ever before. We believe being a public company will only further accelerate our ability to look around corners and open up new categories and opportunities for those in the Endeavor network.
As a public company, we’ll continue:
- Navigating the ever-evolving definition of content
- Cultivating an environment that encourages connections across the platform and a forward-thinking approach to decision-making
- Aggressively advocating on behalf of those who’ve placed their trust in us
- Embracing diversity, inclusion and equality across our platform — content, clients and employees
- Defining success based on long-term growth and innovation, not short-term gains
This company has been a catalyst for culture-defining content for more than a century. We have a great responsibility to carry this mission forward.
We hope you join us as we begin this next chapter.