InterMedia Partners reportedly has agreed to acquire Vibe, a hip-hop magazine that shut down last month after being unable to restructure its debt. InterMedia will relaunch Vibe as an online-only publication, under its Uptown Media platform. Wicks Group of Cos. was Vibe’s most recent owner, having bought it from Freeman Spogli in 2006.
InterMedia Partners, in partnership with its portfolio company Uptown Media Group along with Blackrock Digital today announced the purchase of the assets of Vibe and Vibe.com, the preeminent brands for hip-hop & R&B lifestyle and culture. Founded in 1993 by Quincy Jones and Time Warner, Vibe has been an iconic brand for 16 years, responsible for setting trends among hip hop and mainstream culture. InterMedia is buying Vibe on the heels of the recent June shuttering of the magazine.
“Vibe is the preeminent brand in R&B and hip-hop. We feel privileged to purchase and resurrect such a storied brand,” said David Koff, Senior Partner, InterMedia Partners. “Together with the relaunch of Soul Train this fall and the rapid expansion of Uptown Magazine, a reinvigorated Vibe enables us to serve a broad spectrum of the African American audience with high quality entertainment and information.”
Vibe’s new leadership will include original Vibe team members Robert Miller and Leonard Burnett; Uptown Magazine Co-Founder Brett Wright and Blackrock Digital Partners Chris Smith and Parker McNaughton. This group will be responsible for the re-launch of the Vibe brand and businesses.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to restore the Vibe brand to its well respected position in the minds of both consumers and advertisers,” said original team member Len Burnett. “Together, the Vibe and Uptown brands will allow us to develop an array of integrated digital opportunities and events that reach the dynamic urban consumer.”
Vibe.com, which continues to be one of the most popular urban culture websites, will be immediately re-launched. The digital initiative will be the centerpiece of the new venture. Vibe Magazine will re-launch in November/December 2009, to be followed by quarterly issues in 2010. Robert Miller, who founded Vibe while at Time Warner and later bought it from them with Quincy Jones said, “As much as Vibe pioneered a whole new culture and media proposition in the 90’s, the new digital paradigm offers even greater opportunity to re-position the Vibe brand for the Millennium.”
The new organization will revamp Vibe’s design, content strategy and business model to bring it back to its’ rightful stature in urban entertainment. “Vibe was always a leader in the Cultural Revolution, from music, entertainment and fashion to news and investigative reporting, offering artistic content that pushed the culture forward. We are reclaiming that mission,” said Brett Wright, Chief Creative Officer, Uptown Media Group.
The new venture will focus on developing the Vibe Lifestyle Network of targeted websites and Uptown Media Network, plus the print output of both Uptown and Vibe Magazines. The Digital Networks will be led by Chris Smith and Parker McNaughton of Blackrock Digital, who will be responsible for oversight of integrated sponsorship and ad sales across all network properties and brands. Blackrock Digital was responsible for digital sales for Vibe.com for the past four years and also represents over 20 other music and entertainment websites that will be part of the new network strategy.
“Creating a preeminent lifestyle network anchored by two meaningful brands in the urban space is a fantastic opportunity that we had to get involved with,” said Chris Smith, President of Blackrock Digital. “Vibe.com has been a top performing web property for so many established advertisers, and we look forward to bringing that back to life along with key partner affiliate websites.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
About InterMedia Partners
InterMedia Partners, LP is a private equity investment fund focusing on the media industry across all platforms – television, radio, publishing, internet and marketing. The current fund, InterMedia Partners VII, LP is focused on content assets which target underserved markets.
About Uptown Media
Founded in 2004, Uptown Media Group is the only luxury lifestyle company that targets the Affluent African American (AAA) Market. UPTOWN Magazine affords luxury purveyors the broadest access to this highly sought-after male and female demographic. Uptown Media Group, LLC offers both traditional and innovative strategies, including UPTOWN Magazine (published bi-monthly with NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Charlotte and National editions), UptownLife.net, the interactive website, Uptown Social event updates and Uptown’s signature events. UPTOWN Magazine is available by subscription at www.uptownlife.net and on national newsstands, including Hudson News. UPTOWN Magazine, a toast to Luxury, Lifestyle and Living.
About Blackrock Digital
Blackrock Digital is a leading interactive media sales representation and marketing firm. Blackrock Digital represents top tier media publications’ web sites that attract a young and desirable audience. For the past four years Blackrock has delivered successful marketing solutions for well-established advertisers across its targeted vertical network of music lifestyle web sites.