Hello Sunshine, the media venture cofounded by Reese Witherspoon, is getting majority acquired by a Blackstone-backed company run by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, the two entities announced today.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Under the agreement, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, a newly formed company will make a majority investment in Hello Sunshine, best known for TV projects such as HBO’s Big Little Lies and the highly popular Reese’s Book Club.
Witherspoon and CEO Sarah Harden will continue to oversee Hello Sunshine’s operations, along with the company’s existing management team.
Reached for comment, Harden said the Blackstone deal will give the five-year-old Hello Sunshine a foothold to ramp up its output for both scripted and unscripted offerings, across genres and platforms. “We’re looking forward to bringing even more stories created by women to consumers,” she told Fast Company. “So it’s going to be more of the same, but better and faster—and more ambitious.”
The deal marks the first investment for Mayer and Staggs’s yet-to-be named company, not to be confused with the special purpose acquisition company, announced in March, that the two executives also head up.
Mayer, once the head of Disney’s all-important streaming business, left the entertainment giant last year to take the reins of TikTok as its CEO, but his tenure there was short lived. He resigned during the height of the Chinese-owned platform’s regulatory issues just three months later. Staggs, once seen as heir apparent to Bob Iger, left Disney unexpectedly in 2016.
This is not the first high-profile investment from Blackstone in a women-led company. In 2019, the private-equity giant took a majority stake in Bumble, the online dating platform founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd.
“I started this company to change the way all women are seen in media,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “Over the past few years, we have watched our mission thrive through books, TV, film and social platforms. 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.”