|Eric Gertler Joins as CEO, Ari Horowitz as President; Danyel Smith Named Editor-in-Chief; Len Burnett Continues as Group Publisher|
The Wicks Group of Companies, L.L.C., a New York-based private equity firm, announced today its acquisition of VIBE, the world's leading urban music and lifestyle magazine. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Eric Gertler joins as chief executive officer of the company. Ari Horowitz has been appointed president. Danyel Smith has been named editor-in-chief of the title. Len Burnett will continue as group publisher.
The acquisition underscores management's commitment to extend the VIBE brand into multiple media platforms and distribution channels, while strengthening its unique position among its base of young multicultural consumers.
"The power of VIBE is its appeal to the diverse, trendsetting young style makers who enjoy and are passionate about urban music, fashion and culture," said Gertler. "We think there are tremendous growth and value-creation opportunities to leverage the brand across multiple media platforms and we are excited to build upon the great relationship that VIBE has with its community."
Gertler has spent more than 15 years in a variety of senior management positions in the media industry, most notably serving as the president of the media group that published U.S. News and World Report, Fast Company and The Atlantic Monthly. Gertler was also president and CEO of Privista, a credit management and identity theft company sold to Equifax in 2003. He authored the critically acclaimed book entitled Prying Eyes; Protect Your Privacy From People Who Sell To You, Snoop On You And Steal From You, published by Random House Reference Group. He is currently a principal of Keith Glen Media Corp., and most recently served as CEO of Blackbook Media Corp.
A former editor-at-large for Time Inc., Smith joined VIBE in 1993 and was appointed music editor a year later. In 1996, she was awarded a National Arts Journalism Program fellowship and was appointed editor-in-chief upon her return, serving until 1999.
"I have always been a strong supporter and believer in the VIBE brand, and I am thrilled to rejoin as editor-in-chief," said Smith. "I look forward to strengthening our editorial traditions and our overall music, fashion, culture and style coverage on behalf of VIBE readers."
Smith has written for Elle, Time, Cosmopolitan, Essence, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Spin, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Conde Nast Media Group, and the New York Times. Smith is the author of the San Francisco Chronicle-bestselling novel, More Like Wrestling (Crown) and she wrote the introduction for The New York Times-bestseller, Tupac Shakur. Her second novel, Bliss (Crown), was published in 2005. Smith comments regularly on pop culture for VH-1, WNYC, and CNN. She holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from the New School University.
Ari Horowitz, president, is currently a principal of Keith Glen Media Corp. and previously served as president of BlackBook Media Corp. Horowitz has led four early-stage technology companies through Initial Public Offerings and/or successful sales to public companies. He also served as CEO of Opus360 prior to its acquisition by Artemis International.
"VIBE's strength is its ability to create content that appeals to a savvy group of style makers," said Horowitz. "VIBE is perfectly positioned to be one of the great brands of the 21st century, and I am excited to see us continue its expansion through multiple distribution channels."
Len Burnett will remain as group publisher and will continue to be an integral part of the growth opportunity at Vibe. He rejoined VIBE in June 2005 after serving as a member of its founding staff. Burnett last served as associate publisher from 1997 to 1999. Most recently, he was co-founder and publisher of Uptown, an urban lifestyle publication covering arts and culture in Harlem.
Commenting on the new management team, Burnett said, "I am very pleased to be part of this new team as we collectively grow the VIBE brand. Our new structure will enable us to create stronger advertising, promotions and brand positioning for VIBE across multiple platforms, with the goal of reinforcing and advancing our leadership position in the marketplace. This partnership is a huge plus for our advertisers and we look forward to bringing new products and capabilities to market in short order."
Daniel Black, partner of the Wicks Group said, "We are very excited about this acquisition and the talent that we have assembled to help the business reach its potential. As the leading brand in the urban market, VIBE has all of the hallmarks of an outstanding media property, and this transaction creates a strong platform from which to address its growth potential. Combined with the talent and skills of our new management team, we think VIBE is well-positioned to become a leading media company with multiple revenue and growth opportunities."
As measured by circulation, VIBE is the leading urban entertainment magazine covering urban music and lifestyle. With circulation of approximately 850,000, the magazine alone reaches more than seven million readers per month.
Its current brand extension platforms include VIBE Vixen, a magazine for trend-setting women whose love for urban music and culture inspires their choices in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle; VIBE Online, the online site for VIBE Magazine; VIBE On Demand, a leading on-demand network for urban youth culture; VIBE on film; MVibe, the wireless service that allows the VIBE community to interact with VIBE content via handheld devices. The VIBE brand extends into additional product and distribution channels, such as the VIBE CD and DVD series and television programming.
The Wicks Group of Companies, L.L.C. (www.wicksgroup.com) is a New York based private equity firm that invests in selected segments of the communications, information and media industries. Wicks currently owns or has owned companies in educational publishing, consumer publishing, community newspapers, radio broadcasting, television broadcasting, magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, newsletter publishing, and cable television distribution.