The “business career” section of Kevin Mayer’s Wikipedia page is quite a ride. Not the first part, which details three decades of standard media executive jobs, culminating with running Disney’s streaming assets through the launch of Disney+. The head-spinning stuff starts in May 2020, when Mayer abruptly left Disney after being passed over for C.E.O: In just 18 months, Mayer has taken the top job at TikTok, bailed four months later after President Trump forced its Chinese owner to sell (that never happened); launched a SPAC with his fellow Disney alum Tom Staggs and a hodgepodge of figures including Shaquille O’Neill; merged that SPAC with a fitness app called Beachbody; launched another SPAC with Staggs; was in talks for a senior role at Redbird Capital; tried and failed to buy part of Scooter Braun’s company; joined Russia-made billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries as a senior advisor; became chair of Blavatnik’s sports streaming company DAZN; and, oh yeah, this week he convinced Blackstone, the private equity firm, to buy Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company in a deal valued at $900 million.
Whew. And you thought you got restless during the pandemic.
Before we get into whether the Hello Sunshine deal makes a lick of sense, and what Mayer and Staggs are actually up to, let’s be clear about what this is and isn’t. First, it’s not a $900 million deal. Not in practical terms. It’s a $500 million-plus purchase, which funds operations and provides a nice exit for investors, including AT&T and Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective. The extra $400 million or so is the “imputed” value of the equity Hello Sunshine will roll into the new, unnamed company that will be run by Mayer and Staggs and which Blackstone says will spend at least $2 billion to roll up similar producers. They’re all hoping that stake will be worth $400 million, and maybe it will be if the entity sells or goes public, but that’s a ways off and based on aggressive projections.