In a whirlwind of a transaction, social media marketing agency theAudience has been sold to Al Ahli Holding Group of Dubai for an undisclosed amount.
TheAudience runs social media campaigns for a variety of corporate clients, including movie studios such as 20th Century Fox and Paramount. It was founded in 2011 and had raised more than $20 million in funding from a group of prominent investors, including Participant Media, William Morris Endeavor, Guggenheim Media and Sean Parker, a former Facebook president and co-founder of Napster.
The deal came about suddenly. Chief Executive Oliver Luckett received an email in June from Al Ahli Chief Executive Mohammed Khammas.
“What was interesting was there was a lot of talk going on with big media companies and bankers and whatever,” said Luckett. “We had explored a lot of these things and literally we just received an email from Mohammed’s team.”
Luckett was formerly a Disney executive and Khammas is a Disney investor, though the two didn’t know each other. Luckett said he was surprised Khammas hadn’t reached out via mutual Disney connections, but he respected the direct approach.
“We met a week later and he was a remarkably charming human being,” said Luckett. “Five weeks later it was done.”
Al Ahli’s business empire includes everything from construction and hospitality to fitness and entertainment interests. It plans to incorporate theAudience into a plan to develop original content, which will be distributed on various social media platforms.
The company and its 75 employees, including Luckett, will remain in Los Angeles.
“I’m just happy to be in L.A.,” said Luckett. “There’s a renaissance in content. … We went through a period when people were devaluing content and now they are valuing it again.”
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