Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine (Little Fires Everywhere), has been sold to a firm backed by private-equity giant Blackstone Group. Terms are not disclosed. According to the WSJ, which first reported the deal, it values the company at about $900 million.
The new media venture Blackstone is backing will be run by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, with Hello Sunshine as its first acquisition. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden will join the board of the as-yet-unnamed company and will continue to operate Hello Sunshine.
According to the WSJ, Blackstone is spending more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from existing Hello Sunshine investors, including AT&T and Emerson Collective. Witherspoon and some Hello Sunshine executives and investors will roll over the remaining equity into ownership stakes in the newly formed company.
“I started this company to change the way all women are seen in media,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “Over the past few years, we have watched our mission thrive through books, TV, film and social platforms. Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by partnering with Blackstone, which will enable us to tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally.”
The deal marks the first investment for Mayer and Staggs’s yet-to-be named company, not to be confused with the special purpose acquisition company, announced in March, that the two executives also head up.
Mayer, once the head of Disney’s all-important streaming business, left the entertainment giant last year to take the reins of TikTok as its CEO, but his tenure there was short lived. He resigned during the height of the Chinese-owned platform’s regulatory issues just three months later. Staggs, once seen as heir apparent to Bob Iger, left Disney unexpectedly in 2016.
This is not the first high-profile investment from Blackstone in a women-led company. In 2019, the private-equity giant took a majority stake in Bumble, the online dating platform founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd.