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Kevin Hart merges comedy kingdoms

Kevin Hart // Illustration by Kate Walker

Kevin Hart merges comedy kingdoms


Future. Kevin Hart is merging his companies and taking on additional financing to form one giant funny-house, Hartbeat. With its hand in content, consumer goods, and social media (and armed with a mandate to platform up-and-coming comedians), Hartbeat may be the most influential label in comedy outside of SNL.

Straight to the Hart
Kevin Hart is building an empire of laughs.

  • Per Deadline, he’s merging his two separate entertainment companies, Hartbeat Productions and Laugh Out Loud, into Hartbeat.
  • The new entity is also getting a $100 million investment from private equity firm Abry Partners, which it will use to scale, scale, scale.
  • Thai Randolph, who serves as COO of Laugh Out Loud and Hartbeat Productions, is being elevated to CEO of the whole shebang, while Hart will be Chairman.

Hartbeat has output deals with Peacock, Netflix, SiriusXM, and Audible and consists of three divisions: a studio for film and TV projects, a media unit dedicated to events, gaming, music publishing and a distribution network, and branded entertainment shop Pulse.

“Sales, subscriptions, and eyeballs”
Those are the three things that Randolph said Hartbeat excels at capturing. While that is classic PR speak, of course, it does align with the same tenants that Kevin Mayer and Tom Stagg’s new Blackstone-backed venture, Candle Media, is building its entire entertainment ecosystem around: “content, community, and commerce.” In the brave new world of private-equity backed brands, the intersection between people, projects, and products is the Holy Grail.

And the most entrepreneurial creatives — LeBron James, Reese Witherspoon, etc. — are making sure that they take advantage of the free flow of money in the age of streaming… although there are signs that those blank-check days are slowing down.

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