Magic Johnson Becomes Part-Owner and Chairman of Vibe Holdings
Correspondent: Stephen Ceasar (L.A. Times)
With a multimillion-dollar investment, Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson
is set to become chairman of a New York-based magazine and television
company that he says is poised to tap into a coveted urban audience.
Johnson, 51, will be chairman of Vibe Holdings, the parent company of Vibe magazine and owner of the music-and-dance TV show "Soul Train,"
including its star-studded performance library. No financial details of
the deal were disclosed, although a Johnson spokeswoman described it as
"an eight-figure investment."
Johnson made the deal in partnership with the Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles-based investment firm headed by billionaire Ron Burkle.
It is the first step of a process aimed at revitalizing Vibe Holdings
and making it the center of influence for an urban audience he has
reached with other businesses in the past, Johnson said.
"We know where they are and we know how to reach them," Johnson said. "They are loyal to our brands."
Vibe Holdings is also the parent company of magazine publisher Uptown Media and more than 25 websites. Vibe magazine is published six times a year and is currently found only on newsstands.
company's brands, particularly Vibe magazine and Soul Train, have an
especially loyal fan base in the African American market but have
historically reached beyond it, making them attractive to advertisers
as a "tastemaker for overall culture," said Peter Kern, a managing partner at New York-based InterMedia Partners, which owns a stake in the company.
said the company planned to bring the show back to television and begin
licensing content. The company owns about 300,000 photos and about
1,100 hours of video of performances by music legends including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5.
the Soul Train brand also gives the company an opportunity to
rejuvenate the influence the show had on popular culture during its
heyday with today's audience, Johnson said. "I learned how to dance
watching 'Soul Train.' We're going to make it hip and young again."
chairman, Johnson said, he would be involved in business strategy and
engaging advertisers but would leave day-to-day operations to the
current leadership. The company would also attempt to acquire other
media that complemented its strategy.
"We're open for more business," Johnson said. "We have an opportunity to take this to a whole other level."
In October, Johnson sold his 4.5% stake in the Lakers to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong
and sold 105 Starbucks coffeehouse franchises back to the company for a
reported $75 million. Johnson has also expressed interest in becoming a
majority owner of a professional sports team and has been involved in
the push to bring a National Football League team back to Los Angeles.