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Kevin Hart Wrangles $100 Million Investment to Expand Media Empire

HARTBEAT’s Chief Content Officer Bryan Smiley, Chairman Kevin Hart, CEO Thai Randolph and Chief Distribution Officer Jeff Clanagan.

Kevin Hart is laughing all the way to the bank.

The stand-up comedian turned movie star has proven he has what it takes to shine in the business world as well.

Tuesday, he announced, thanks to a $100 million investment from private equity firm Abry Partners, the expansion of his already formidable media empire.

The new venture, born of a merger of his two current production companies, Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions, will simply be called HARTBEAT.

"The creation of HARTBEAT and our capital raise with Abry represent a new era in comedy," said Hart in a statement released by the company about the deal. 

"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."

The new company is reportedly valued at over $650 million. Abry's minority stake in it equates to about 15%. Hart will act as chairman. The existing leadership team from both entities will continue to oversee day-to-day operations. Thai Randolph, who had been the chief operating officer of both Laugh Out Loud and HartBeat Productions, was named chief executive.

HARTBEAT will use the investment to grow existing brands, produce new content and grow its team.

"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. 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," Randolph stated.

Abry Partners partner Nicolas Massard will be joining the HARTBEAT board as part of the deal. NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock, which took an equity stake in Laugh Out Loud in 2020, will remain a shareholder.

The company has 60 projects in various stages of development across various platforms, and in addition to a first-look deal with Peacock, boasts several other strategic multi-year partnerships. HARTBEAT has a film deal with Netflix, a partnership with SiriusXM, and a deal with Audible in partnership with multimedia star Charlamagne Tha God.

Upcoming projects for the company include "Me Time," a Netflix movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall, "Storytown" on HBOMax and an Apple TV+ documentary, "#1 on the Call Sheet."

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