PE-backed STX buys Surreal Inc

STX Entertainment has acquired Surreal Inc, a producer of immersive content experiences. No financial terms were disclosed. STX’s backers include TPG Growth, Hony Capital and DNS Capital.


LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–STX Entertainment (“STX” or “the Company”), a diversified, global media company, is expanding into virtual reality (“VR”) content creation by acquiring Surreal, Inc. (, a leading producer and distributor of immersive content experiences. Surreal will operate as a division of STX, led by VR pioneers and Surreal co-founders Rick Rey and Andy Vick, who will serve as Co-Presidents of VR and Immersive Entertainment. The announcement was made today by Sophie Watts, President of STX Entertainment, who will oversee the new Surreal division.

The acquisition follows STX’s recent significant strategic investments from Tencent and PCCW, among others, to accelerate its expansion into a fully integrated and diversified media company, designed to capture new global opportunities arising from a rapidly evolving media landscape. The addition of Surreal and its premier VR content creation capabilities will form STX’s first full-scale division dedicated to new capabilities across digital, music and television as it deploys the funds from its capital infusion.

Mr. Rey and Mr. Vick are widely recognized as industry experts and innovators at the forefront of immersive entertainment formats, including live-action 360-degree video and interactive VR content. They have produced over 70 experiences in the last year amassing over 35 million views across platforms. As co-heads of STX’s Surreal division, they will continue to develop a wide range of original VR films, TV series and branded programming, as well as immersive derivatives of STX film, television and digital properties. Providing high-quality VR production at scale, alongside STX’s other capabilities, will add to the suite of options available to stars and brands working with STX to engage fans globally and seamlessly across mediums.

“Virtual reality is exploding, and STX sees a unique opportunity to create one-of-a-kind content by pairing the world’s biggest stars and storytellers with best-in-class VR capabilities,” said Ms. Watts. “Rick and Andy have been leaders in redefining the entertainment experience, and we can’t wait to get them in a room with all of our other premier partners. Our seamless integration allows for a platform-agnostic exchange of ideas and talent across film, television and emerging media, such that STX will become the number one destination for talent, brands and content creators seeking a way to create programming designed to play on every VR system.”

“We founded Surreal with a mission to change the way people experience entertainment,” said Mr. Rey. “There is no better place to bring that vision to life than at STX Entertainment. Imagine the possibilities for innovation when you have a virtual reality division sitting next to a motion picture and television group in a frictionless ecosystem of collaboration. Immersive content is not just a priority at STX – it’s now part of every major conversation. We are thrilled to be joining a forward-thinking and entrepreneurial new company.”

“As part of STX, we will have the resources to move the needle in a way we haven’t yet seen in the immersive content space,” said Mr. Vick. “We are creating and thoughtfully programming a slate of compelling original content with A-list stars in front of and behind the camera. Audiences are searching for a reason to put on a headset, and that’s exactly what we’re going to give them.”

Before joining STX Entertainment, Mr. Rey was co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Surreal, where he oversaw its overall direction, business strategy and key strategic partnerships. Prior to co-founding Surreal, Mr. Rey was General Manager of Entertainment at Maker Studios, where he oversaw content operations, programming strategy and branded entertainment for the company’s key content verticals, including Comedy, Music, Movies, News, Pop Culture and Animation. Previously, Mr. Rey was Vice President of Original Programming and Development at Blip, an independent video platform that was acquired by Maker Studios. Mr. Rey led Blip’s digital studio and branded entertainment team.

Mr. Vick co-founded and served as Chief Content Officer at Surreal. Mr. Vick was responsible for Surreal’s content development, talent partnerships and programming strategy across multiple content categories and distribution platforms. Prior to launching Surreal, Mr. Vick was Head of Development at Maker Studios. Previously, Mr. Vick wrote and produced television and film for companies such as DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox.

About STX Entertainment
STX Entertainment is a fully integrated, diversified, global media company designed from inception to unlock value from the 21st century’s changed media landscape. STX specializes in the development, production, marketing and distribution of talent-driven films, television, and digital media content, with a unique ability to maximize the impact of content across worldwide, multiplatform distribution channels, including unparalleled global capabilities and direct passage into the China market.

STX Entertainment is led by accomplished businessman Robert Simonds and was co-founded by Bill McGlashan, managing partner of the growth division of leading global private investment firm TPG, which has $70 billion of capital under management. The Company’s Board of Directors includes prominent leaders in global finance and entertainment, including Frank Biondi, former President and CEO of Viacom, Inc. and former Chairman and CEO of Universal Studios; Tony Vinciquerra, former Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group; Gigi Pritzker, CEO of Madison Wells Media; David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG; John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital; and Dominic Ng, Chairman of East West Bank, among others.

In addition to TPG Growth, other investors include Hony Capital, a leading private equity firm in China; PCCW, Southeast Asia’s largest Internet and cable services provider; Tencent Holdings, China’s leading provider of online products and services; Dominic Ng, Chairman of East West Bank; DNS Capital (representing the business interests of Gigi Pritzker and her immediate family); and Beau Wrigley, former Chairman and CEO of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, among others.

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