Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Viacom Acquires Minority Stake In DigiTour Media

Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), the parent company of the Nickelodeon brand, has taken a significant minority stake in DigiTour Media, a startup that produces live events - called DigiTours and DigiFests - for fans of YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat and other social-media-based stars.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. A source familiar with the funding said DigiTour raised about $10 million in the latest round, with additional investors participating including LionTree and Slow Ventures.

Previous DigiTour investors include producer-entrepreneur-host Ryan Seacrest; Advance Publications, Inc., the parent company of Condé Nast Publications; talent manager Guy Oseary; Machinima co-founder Allen DeDebovoise; and Ben Silverman, founder and CEO of Electus.

"Partnering with a premiere entertainment company like Viacom and its powerhouse brands is something I have always envisioned for DigiTour," Meridith Valiando Rojas, co-founder and CEO of DigiTour, said in a prepared statement. "We believe that this pairing will lead to opportunities to combine our authentic connection to Generation Z with Viacom's unparalleled television, film, digital and international resources in order to help accelerate and scale our media brand globally."

DigiTour was advised by LT Growth, a division of LionTree Advisors, and Paul Hastings.

DigiTour's "in real life" events, which are aimed at tween and teen fans, include concerts and festivals across the U.S. and internationally. Past performers at its tours and fests have included Fifth Harmony, Hayes Grier, Nash Grier, Jack & Jack, Demi Lovato, Trevor Moran, O2L and Andrea Russett.

Ryan Beatty performs at DigiFest NYC at Citi Field on June 7, 2014. (Donald Bowers / Getty Images)

In connection with the funding, Viacom will get a seat on DigiTour's board, alongside DigiTour founders Meridith Valiando Rojas and Chris Rojas, Ryan Seacrest and Andrew Siegel of AV Partners, the investment arm of Advance Publications.

Viacom's move underscores its efforts to attract younger viewers, who increasingly gravitate toward online stars with large followings.

L.A.-based DigiTour disclosed that it had recently raised $1.675 million in a Sept. 15 SEC filing, however that financing is unrelated to the latest Viacom-led round.

Josh Levi performs at the beginning of the Digitour 2014 show at the House of Blues in Dallas. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

The company was founded in 2010 by Valiando Rojas, a former music A&R executive at Columbia Records, and music producer Chris Rojas; the couple married in 2014.

Sources: Variety, Deadline Hollywood, LA Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times.
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