Legendary buys Nerdist Industries

Company was original investor in GeekChicDaily

Legendary Entertainment has purchased Nerdist Industries.

Company, which operates a website, YouTube channel, podcast network, newsletters, TV shows and produces live events, reaching a growing audience of around 15 million each month. Venture will continue to be run by founder Chris Hardwick and CEO Peter Levin. But as part of the deal, the duo will now also become co-presidents of Legendary’s digital business, and work closely with Legendary’s execs on event management and comics-related operations.

In the new roles, Hardwick serves as co-president of digital content, while Levin becomes co-president of digital strategy. They report to Legendary Entertainment chief operating officer Tim Connors.

“With the acquisition, we’ll be empowered to more aggressively help Nerdist broaden their reach as an autonomous editorial brand, as well as pursue some exciting new ideas together,” Connors said.

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Acquisition comes in the form of payments to Nerdist when it reaches certain traffic figures and other milestones. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.

Deal comes on the eve of Comic-Con, which officially kicks off Thursday, and as Nerdist is producing its first “Course of the Force” lightsaber relay from Santa Monica to San Diego. “Star Wars”-themed Olympic style torch relay is backed by George Lucas’ Lucasfilm, sports marketing firm Octagon, and benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Acquisition will now enable Nerdist to expand its brand with its pop culture-obsessed community.

“This amazing deal allows Nerdist to not only scale our existing business beyond what we could have imagined, but also to extend into film and television while symbiotically supporting Legendary’s digital strategies,” Hardwick said. “Legendary’s ‘Let’s just make stuff that we really want to see exist in the world,’ philosophy is exactly aligned with ours.”

Levin launched pop culture newsletter GeekChicDaily with Wizard Entertainment founder Gareb Shamus and Mandalay Entertainment’s Peter Guber in 2009, and merged the venture with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist last year. Nerdist launched its YouTube channel in April.

Legendary’s Thomas Tull was an initial investor in GeekChicDaily, along with producer Joe Roth, Internet entrepreneur Mike Slade, Machinima topper Allen DeBevoise, Gamespy founder Mark Surfas and former Electronic Arts and Activision games vet turned Legendary Digital prexy Kathy Vrabeck.

“We’ve been impressed with how Chris and Peter have harnessed the Nerdist platform to create and deliver high-quality, relevant content, and then develop one-on-one relationships with the fans we see as Legendary’s core psychographic,” said Tull.

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