Kevin Hart announced on Tuesday he is merging his Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions to form HartBeat, a global, multi-platform media company.
HartBeat launches with a $100M investment from private equity firm Abry Partners, which took a minority investment in the new company. As part of the deal, Abry Partners partner Nicolas Massard will be joining the HartBeat board. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, which signed a multi-year, first-look deal and took an equity stake in Laugh Out Loud in 2020, will remain a shareholder.
“The creation of HartBeat and our capital raise with Abry represent a new era in comedy. This all started out with a mission to keep the world laughing together and I’m so proud our teams have delivered on that, putting in the hard work to build the most innovative and inclusive comedic storytelling company,” said Hart in a press release.
“In an industry that loves to say no and close doors, I’ve been bullish about forging our own path and using our success to open doors for others,” Hart added. “With this merger and funding, we’re taking the new blueprint we’ve built-in entertainment to the next level and creating opportunities for a new generation of comedic talent. I can’t wait to bring the world more comedians, experiences, and stories with humor and heart.”
The existing leadership team from HartBeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud will continue to oversee day-to-day operations. Hart will act as chairman and Thai Randolph, who led the capital raise and held positions as President & COO of Laugh Out Loud and COO of HartBeat Productions, has been promoted to CEO of the new company.
“At HartBeat, we’re building an end-to-end entertainment enterprise that creates, markets and distributes the most culturally relevant IP and experiences in comedy and beyond,” said Randolph. “The merger and capital raise help us further scale and invest in the future of comedic entertainment, creating more high demand content and experiences at the intersection of comedy and culture.”
HartBeat Productions’ Bryan Smiley will become president & chief content officer, with Laugh Out Loud’s Jeff Clanagan becoming President & Chief Distribution Officer. HartBeat Productions co-founder Leland Wigington will move to lead a new production banner under HartBeat.
The company operates under three divisions: HartBeat Studios, led by Bryan Smiley, which finances, develops and produces film and TV content; HartBeat Media, led by Jeff Clanagan, which includes events, gaming, music publishing, Web3 initiatives, and an expansive distribution network; and PULSE, the company’s branded entertainment studio, which works with brands including P&G, Lyft, Sam’s Club, Chase, and Verizon.
Operating under HartBeat Media, the LOL! Network will continue to be the company’s flagship consumer brand.
Upcoming HartBeat projects include the F. Gary Gray action heist “Lift” and “Me Time” with Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall for Netflix, “#1 on the Call Sheet” documentary for Apple TV+, “So Dumb It’s Criminal” with Snoop Dogg for Peacock, and a new season of the Hart-led sports talk show “Cold as Balls” on LOL! Network.
The company also has an unscripted first look deal with Peacock, a film deal with Netflix, a partnership with SiriusXM and a deal with Audible in partnership with Charlamagne Tha God via the joint venture SBH Productions.