A newly formed company run by entertainment executives former Tik Tok CEO Kevin Mayer and former Disney CEO Tom Staggs and backed by investment capital from Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX), a global investment business, has purchased Hello Sunshine, a media company that seeks to put women at the center of every story it creates, founded by Reese Witherspoon in 2016.
Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s existing senior management team, led by CEO Sarah Harden, will continue to oversee Hello Sunshine’s day-to-day operations and remain significant equity holders in the business. Under the terms of the agreement, Witherspoon and Harden will join the new media company’s board.
Hello Sunshine is a female-led content and media business whose mission is to lead and change the narrative for women and provide original content focusing on the narratives and experiences of women. Hello Sunshine creates content across all platforms – from scripted and unscripted television, feature films, animated series, podcasts, audio storytelling, and digital series – including productions such as “Big Little Lies,” “The Morning Show,” and “Little Fires Everywhere.”
Witherspoon said, “Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by partnering with Blackstone, which will enable us to tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally. I couldn’t be more excited about what this means for our future. I am committed to continuing to create opportunity for filmmakers, authors and creators of all backgrounds and experiences to tell their stories in their own way, and to reach more audiences who will see that their stories matter. This is a unique time in our world where the intersection of art, commerce and media makes it possible for these creators to tell their stories and Hello Sunshine is here to put a spotlight on their amazing creations. I am deeply proud of the team that got us to this incredible moment, and I’m thrilled to be working with Blackstone, Kevin, and Tom to grow a next generation media company. They are committed to helping our mission to empower women and the people who celebrate them. One story at a time.”
Harden said, “We began Hello Sunshine with a clear vision and an ambition to build a female-powered media company that centered on women’s stories, and it has been incredible to work alongside Reese and the entire Hello Sunshine team to turn that vision into a reality. Kevin and Tom and our partners at Blackstone see what we see – women’s stories matter, and we have economic power as consumers, creators and business leaders. Their commitment enables us to double-down on our mission and our ambitious growth agenda. Reese and our whole team are honored to be part of this new media company from the beginning and to have the opportunity to help shape its future.”
Mayer and Staggs said, “We are thrilled to partner with Reese, Sarah, and the entire Hello Sunshine team. Hello Sunshine is a perfect fit for our vision of a new, next generation entertainment, technology, and commerce company. We seek to empower creators with innovation, capital, and scale to inspire, entertain, and delight global audiences with engaging content, experiences, and products. Our platform will foster a uniquely creator-friendly culture that gives elite talent the resources they need to create and capitalize on their best, most inventive work. We look forward to backing Reese, Sarah, and their world-class team as they continue to produce and identify dynamic, engaging content for years to come.”
Joe Baratta, global head of private equity at Blackstone, said:,“The rapidly growing demand for high-quality content is one of our firm’s highest-conviction investment themes. We are excited to have partnered with Kevin and Tom, and now Reese, Sarah and Hello Sunshine – a pioneer and category leader in the historically underserved market of female-focused content. Reese is a visionary founder and entrepreneur who has built an extraordinary business with a long runway for continued expansion.”
Blackstone’s investment is being made through the firm’s flagship private equity business, which previously acquired a majority stake in Bumble, an online dating platform founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd.
Hello Sunshine’s investors and partners include AT&T, Emerson Collective, Seth Rodsky and Jim Toth.
Hello Sunshine was represented in the transaction by Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as legal advisor to Blackstone and the newly formed media company.