August 2, 2021
Reese Witherspoon is selling her 5-year-old Hello Sunshine media company to private equity giant Blackstone Group in a transaction that could be worth as much as $900 million. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden will join the yet-unnamed new company board, which will be run by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs.
Blackstone is investing $500 million in the transaction for Hello Sunshine assets, which include HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” and Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” among others. Witherspoon, who will receive an equity stake in the new company, will continue to push for female-generated content.
“I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Witherspoon said in a media interview. “This is a meaningful move because it really means that women’s stories matter.”
Joe Baratta, global head of private equity at Blackstone, said the growing demand for high-quality content is one of the firm’s “highest-conviction” investment themes.
“Reese is a visionary founder and entrepreneur who has built an extraordinary business with a long runway for continued expansion,” Baratta said.
Mayer, who headed Disney’s launch of Disney+ and ESPN+, among other digital ventures, left the company to head TikTok — a short-lived move after the social media platform found itself in the political crosshairs of former President Trump.
Staggs was the former chief financial officer at Disney and key to the company’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar Animation in 2006, and Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009. Both Mayer and Staggs separately attempted to put themselves in line to become CEO of Disney — a position that ultimately went to company veteran Bob Chapek.