Sugar23 Raises $30 Million, Expands Executive Hires, Adds Departments

“I wanted the infrastructure to be in place to uniquely and completely service artists,” says company founder Michael Sugar

Oscar-winning producer and CEO of Sugar23, Michael Sugar and wife Lauren Sugar at the premiere for Apple TV+'s "Dickinson," which Sugar 23 produced
Sugar23 founder Michael Sugar and wife Lauren (photo credit: Getty Images)

Sugar23,  a Los Angeles media company founded by Academy Award-winning producer Michael Sugar (“Spotlight”), has raised $30 million and added key executives to oversee new areas of management, content creation, production and branding, the company said Wednesday.

The funding, led by SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and MRC, goes toward company development beyond Sugar23’s multiyear movie production deal with Netflix and aids in company expansion into podcasting and book publishing.

Sugar23 also announced it has acquired the rights to the New York City luxury retailer Bonwit Teller and that it is developing plans to relaunch the brand and has partnered with experiential agency Blue Revolver to bring to market new virtual-event technology.

“I wanted the infrastructure in place to be able to uniquely and completely service artists,” Sugar told TheWrap.  “I have lived my entire career in the service of storytellers. … This company was designed not to leave any stones unturned anymore.”

To service the expansion, Sugar23 has added Dan Riedler as chief financial officer; Evan Sils as general counsel; Angela Ledgerwood as editorial director of Sugar23 Books, a publishing imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;  Mike Mayer as head of Sugar23 Podcast Group; Cliff Spence as chief product officer and Shelsea Jacobs as head of packaging.  The executives join previously announced head of production Ashley Zalta and head of unscripted David Hillman.  Riedler and Sils join Sugar and Zalta as Sugar23 partners.

"Spotlight" at the Academy Awards
“Spotlight” at the Academy Awards

Sugar said the company plans to launch an additional “very major” fundraising push in the summer and more expansion into new platforms.

“This is the calm before the storm. This is the appetizer, not the entrée,” he joked.

Sugar said launching new departments should allow for further synergy between platforms, “to create a pathway for authors into publishing, for publishing into podcasts. … The idea here is not to create a thriving production management company, we have enough of those.  It is to disrupt in the way that I have always disrupted.” He added that his goal is to bring more “kindness and joy” into productions and brands.

Sugar, who has led such projects as “Spotlight,” “The Knick” and “13 Reasons Why,”  founded Sugar23 in 2017.  The company is in preproduction on Season 3 of “Dickinson” for Apple TV+ and produced the feature “Laundromat” for Netflix.  Projects in development include the Leslye Headland ‘Star Wars’ series for Disney+ and ‘Last of the Mohicans” for HBO Max.


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