Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective has bought a minority stake in powerhouse management-production company Anonymous Content.
Anonymous, founded by producer Steve Golin in 1999, has been shopping for a minority investor in the company for the past few months. With the investment, Anonymous and Emerson will focus on developing “socially-relevant” film, TV and digital content.
Anonymous has come on strong on the production side during the past few years with high-profile TV shows such as “True Detective,” “Mr. Robot” and “The Knick.” The company was also behind the two heatseekers of the 2015-16 film awards cycle, “Spotlight” (which won the best picture Oscar) and “The Revenant.”
“It is an honor for Anonymous Content to be partnering with Laurene Powell Jobs and the Emerson Collective team,” said Golin, who is CEO of Anonymous. “Emerson Collective shares our commitment to creating high-quality content that both entertains and inspires, and we are eager to help further their bold initiatives. Our partnership will expand opportunities for our clients and Anonymous Content to highlight issues of social justice and produce projects that can serve as agents of change.”
Golin and his partners Michael Sugar, Doug Wald, Eric Stern and Diane Janicki will continue to run the privately held Anonymous, which is based in Culver City. Emerson will have representation on its board of directors.
The success with TV series has revved up the financial momentum at Anonymous. The company retained Guggenheim Securities earlier this year to shop for investors to allow the company to further expand its scope and capitalize on the insatiable demand for high-end content. In addition to management, TV and film production, Anonymous has a prosperous commercial and branded content division that works with blue-chip advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Prada and Nike.
Endemol Shine, Paramount Pictures and ITV are among the traditional entertainment companies that took a serious look at investing in the company. But Anonymous was asking for $100 million for a 49% minority interest — which translated to a sky-high earnings multiple. And that made it an uphill climb for getting a deal done.
Reps for Anonymous and Emerson would not discuss financial terms. But a source close to the situation said the valuation of Anonymous in the deal with Emerson came in considerably higher than $100 million.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Emerson Collective, a philanthropy-focused LLC, has been moving into the media and entertainment arena. Last year it invested in Macro, the production venture launched by former WME agent Charles King. Powell Jobs is the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
“Emerson Collective believes in the power of storytelling to shape our culture and improve lives,” said Powell Jobs, who is president of Emerson Collective. “We’re thrilled to partner with Steve and his talented team at Anonymous Content to create films, television and digital content that can inspire change.”
Emerson Collective is named after the 19th century Transcendentalist writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. The org’s goal is to “remove barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential.” Emerson’s focus to date has been on education and immigration reform, as well as environmental concerns.
In addition to Guggenheim, Anonymous was advised in the sale by a team led by Robert Haymer at Latham & Watkins.
(Pictured: Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Emerson Collective’s Laurene Powell Jobs)