Kevin Hart gets $100-million minority investment to build his comedy empire
Comedian Kevin Hart has secured a $100-million minority investment for his newly formed company called Hartbeat, a combination of two Hart-founded companies.
Hartbeat is formed from the merger of Hart’s film and TV production company, Hartbeat Productions, and Laugh Out Loud.
Founded in 2017, Laugh Out Loud is known for podcasts, web series and streaming shows including “Olympic Highlights with Kevin Hart & Snoop Dogg” for Comcast Corp.’s Peacock and the Roku series “Die Hart.”
Shows from Hartbeat Productions include the FX comedy series “Dave,” while its movies have included “Night School,” starring Hart and Tiffany Haddish.
Launched in 2017, Hart’s Laugh Out Loud has shifted strategies significantly as the industry of online content has radically changed.
The new $100-million investment comes from private equity firm Abry Partners, which gets a minority stake in the new company and two seats on Hartbeat’s board. Peacock, which has a multi-year distribution deal with Laugh Out Loud and took a minority stake in the company in 2020, will still be a shareholder, the company said.
The Encino-based company is valued at about $650 million, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
The deal comes as private equity firms and wealthy individuals are pouring funds into production companies, music catalogs and other entertainment firms in the hopes of capitalizing on the growing demand for streaming content.
Reese Witherspoon’s firm Hello Sunshine sold to former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer’s Blackstone-backed Candle Media in a $900-million deal. LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Co. sold a minority stake to RedBird Capital valuing the company at $725 million.
Hart will be Hartbeat’s chairman and will remain its majority owner. Longtime associates of his will run the business.
Thai Randolph will serve as chief executive, Bryan Smiley becomes chief content officer and Jeff Clanagan will be chief distribution officer
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