Deal News: April 28, 2020

(This was published in today’s Monetizing Media newsletter. Sign up here to receive it each day.)

Digestible Media


  • Endeavor is raising $250m to help cover operating costs, according to the NY Post. PE firm Silver Lake, which already owns 42% is not planning to increase its stake, per the report. (Read more)
    • Moody’s downgraded Endeavor’s credit rating yesterday from B2 to B3. The talent representation and live events group has carried a lot of debt since financing its acquisition of UFC in 2016. (Read more)
  • FaZe Clan, the high-profile esports team, and Sugar23 formed a joint venture called FaZe Studios to produce film and TV projects. (Read more)
  • A US District judge dismissed most charges by the Writers Guild of America that collection of packaging fees by talent agencies WMECAA, and UTA were illegal. (Read more)
    • The judge ruled that individual writers can still make claims against their agencies for breaching fiduciary duties.


  • Hightimes Holding Corp, the company behind the cannabis-focused publishing brands like High Times, is leveraging its brand recognition to get into commerce: it’s acquiring 13 cannabis dispensaries in California for $80m in stock. (Read more)
    • It listed on Nasdaq in 2018 via a Reg A+ process and has revenue of about $20m/yr from publishing and events.


  • Pandora added 51,000 paying subscribers in Q1, reaching 6.3m total. It earned $241 in ad revenue (+4% yoy) and $369m in total (+1%). (Read more)
  • Hipgnosis Songs Fund CEO Merck Mercuriadis said in an interview with music journalist Tim Ingham that Hipgnosis has now invested $1b across 60 catalogs since launching in July 2018. Despite industry rumors about him doing deals at 20x multiples, he says the publicly-traded investment co’s avg multiple paid has been 12.99x net publisher share. (Read more)
    • Mercuriadis also says he anticipates raising and investing another $1b in the next 2 years.
    • In Sept 2018 I wrote about the war over music copyrights with surging investment in the space. Some called it a bubble but it has continued as a hot market.
  • Travis Scott‘s 5 concerts in Fortnite attracted 27.7 million unique users combined. (Read more)


  • SiriusXM had Q1 revenue of $1.6 billion (+6% yoy) and gross profit of $992m (+7% yoy). (Read more)
    • 34.8m total subscribers, 9.1m of which are on trials given partnerships with auto makers or other companies.
    • Of 143k new subs, 69k were self-paying subs. Self-pay subscriber churn held steady at 1.8%.
    • ARPU was up 3% to $13.95.

Interactive Media

  • Rovio, the Finnish mobile games company best known for its Angry Birds franchise, reported Q1 revenue of €66.6m (-6% yoy) with pre-tax profits of €11.5m (+53% yoy). (Presentation / Webcast)
    • The boost in profits resulted from a substantial cut-back on user acquisition spend while user base remained stable (€13m vs €23m in Q1 2019).
    • Most UA spend is toward growing Angry Birds Dream Blast and Sugar Blast. The rest is on increasing earnings from Angry Birds 2.
    • Rovio has 10 games in development, the next 3 of which have been in soft launch since 2019 and are gearing up for full launch.
  • Scopely is acquiring PierPlay, a fellow LA-based studio that launched in 2016 and was a partner to Scopely in developing Scrabble GO. (Read more)
  • Macarthur Fortune Holding acquired the Jagex (the Cambridge UK-based team behind the hit MMO Runescape) from Fukong Interactive for $530m via its Platinum Fortune fund. (Read more)


  • While Verizon‘s weekly updates on network usage during the Covid-19 crisis have shown peak usage far above pre-Covid levels in activities like gaming, streaming, and web browsing, they have show declines in social media usage. The April 22 data was -15% for the week compared to averages before March. (Read more)
    • While social media companies are reporting increased DAUs, this suggests the amount of time those DAUs are spending on their platform may be lower. It would make sense given the easy availability of games, Netflix, etc. when at home all day, not to mention a dramatic shift to socializing through video chat like Zoom and FaceTime.
    • A Verizon spokeswoman confirmed the decline in peak social media usage was not merely due to a more even distribution of when people use social media than before.
  • Facebook plans to enable Facebook Pages to charge for users to attend live streams. (Read more)


  • Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings II raised $360m, following the last week’s IPO of Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings III which raised $720m. Both are SPACs created by Chamath Palihapitiya and Ian Osborne, hunting for private tech companies (particularly startup “unicorns”) to acquire and take public. (Read more)
    • The duo’s first SPAC took Virgin Galactic public. Their new targets could include one of the entertainment-related unicorns but may very well not.