Top William Morris Endeavor executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell are launching a venture capital fund, an individual with knowledge of the plan told TheWrap Wednesday.
The talent agency honchos are looking to raise a first round of $150 million, the insider said. The fund will serve as a vehicle for WME , whose majority owner is Silver Lake Partners, to acquire and develop start-ups — an interest evidenced by numerous tech company investments and its recent purchase of fashion giant IMG.
The fund will seek a full-time manager, with Emanuel and Whitesell serving as advisers. WME declined to comment on the matter.
The IMG deal, which closed for $2.3 billion in 2014, provided WME with premiere sports, entertainment and media resources. IMG had 3,500 employees in more than 3o countries prior to the merger, and at the time represented the likes of Peyton Manning, Alexander Ovechkin and Venus Williams, bolstering WME’s presence in the pro athlete market.
At the beginning of 2015, WME-IMG acquired Global eSports Management (G.E.M.), an international agency which manages clients across the professional video gaming industry. The G.E.M. acquisition lent WME traction in the rapidly expanding sect, which includes elite players of games like “Call of Duty” and fringe commentators and personalities.