Former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs are in talks to buy Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content as part of a larger roll-up of independent content companies, an individual with knowledge of the talks told TheWrap.
The venture, which is being financed by Blackstone, would incorporate a broad portfolio of companies that could span social media, influencers, music, musicians, film, television and ecommerce. Blackstone is providing initial funding up to $2 billion, the individual added.
Representatives for Propagate, Staggs, Mayer and Braun did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
The insider said that talks with both Propagate Ithaca were serious but “far from a done deal.” Any deal is still weeks if not months away, the individual said. “It’s a matter of finding a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.”
The value of Propagate and Ithaca is unknown, but likely to be at a peak during the current streaming wars and race for dominance. Propagate, founded by founded by former NBC Entertainment chief Ben Silverman and his partner Howard Owens, is a burgeoning content creator behind TV series including Amazon’s “Lore,” Hulu’s Hillary Clinton documentary and Food Network’s “Chopped.”
Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, led by SB Projects and Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group, includes clients Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato.
In addition, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment — arguably the most premium of content producers in Hollywood — was also a target of interest for Mayer and Staggs. Reps for Imagine did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
According to the individual, the new rollup venture is separate from Forest Road Acquisition Corp., a SPAC investment vehicle set up by Mayer, Staggs and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal late last year with the goal of raising $250 million for media and technology acquisitions.
The new rollup project comes during an explosion of demand for content due to the rise of streaming services across the entertainment landscape, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, Apple and many others. CBS All Access is also launching a beefed-up rebrand as Paramount+ next month.
Mayer is the former Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International division of The Walt Disney Company, while Staggs is the former Disney chief operating officer, who was Mayer’s boss and mentor for many years. Both were passed over for the top job at Disney when Bob Iger was on the hunt for a successor.
Mayer left Disney last year shortly after Bob Chapek was named Iger’s successor, and had a stormy four-month tenure as as CEO for TikTok — exiting last summer as the social media company came under intense scrutiny from former president Donald Trump. He recently joined Access Industries, the parent company of sports streaming service DAZN (led by another former Disney executive, John Skipper) as a senior adviser.
The Hollywood Reporter was first to report on the potential deal.
Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.