Gunpowder & Sky — the newly formed digital-focused studio co-founded by Van Toffler, former CEO of Viacom Media Networks Music Group — has invested in and struck a development partnership with Shareability, a startup specializing in branded viral videos.
Shareability was founded in 2013 by digital media entrepreneur Tim Staples and producer Nick Reed, who won an Academy Award for documentary short “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.” The 20-employee startup’s viral hits include “Freshpet Holiday Feast” (pictured above), Pizza Hut’s “The Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA” and “Ronaldo in Disguise,” featuring soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Terms of G&S’s deal with Shareability were not disclosed. Toffler launched Gunpowder & Sky in January with ex-Endemol exec Floris Bauer, with backing from Otter Media, the joint venture of AT&T and the Chernin Group.
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With the funding from Gunpowder & Sky, Shareability plans to develop and finance long-form content, invest in technology platforms for distribution, and hire senior producers and development execs. The partnership between the companies also will include a global distribution agreement, and they are exploring several co-productions.
“Really the focus is creating original shows and (intellectual property) with a digital-first mindset,” said Staples, CEO of Shareability. That will include TV-style formats for shows that could be sold to traditional cable or broadcast TV networks or over-the-top services like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon or YouTube, he added.
The first two shows Shareability is in production on under the G&S partnership is a travel-based show with a YouTube star, and a scripted project around a “major global athlete,” Staples said, declining to identify the talent.
“Tim, Nick and the rest of the team are simply the best at creating highly shareable videos,” said Bauer, president of Gunpowder & Sky. “Combined with the unique ability to market their videos across platforms, Shareability is poised to quickly expand into original and longer-form programming, and we are excited to have them join the G&S network of best in class digital video creators.”
To date, Shareability’s productions have generated nearly 1 billion views, and the company has had more than 25 videos featured on YouTube’s front page. The company’s clients have included Sony, ESPN, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Freshpet, Monster and SodaStream. In 2015, it co-founded and launched its first original consumer brand, ROC, in partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo.
L.A.-based Gunpowder & Sky has current deals with creative partners including Cut, Supergravity, Realm Pictures, Bona Fide Productions and Adaptive Studios. Shareability is based in Los Angeles, with offices in Provo, Utah.