The Deal Marks Whistle’s Second Acquisition of the Year and Further Accelerates the Company’s Inorganic and Organic Growth Strategy Positioning the Combined Business to Double Its Year-Over-Year Revenue
Whistle, an entertainment and sports media company known for creating inspiring and engaging programming for young audiences, acquired Santa Monica-based Vertical Networks, a mobile-first content studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch and backed by Snap. The deal greatly expands Whistle’s investment in creating lifestyle video content around audience passion points. This is the second acquisition for Whistle this year, following the purchase of LA-based studio New Form where Discovery, ITV, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer became stockholders of Whistle. Through organic growth and acquisitions, the company is on track to more than double its revenue in 2019.
Vertical Networks’ current stockholders–which include affiliates of Elisabeth Murdoch and Snap–became stockholders of Whistle alongside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, NBC Sports, Sky Sports, Liberty Global and TEGNA, among others. Since launching in 2014, Whistle has raised over $100 million from investors.
Whistle currently has 12 shows on Snapchat, including two new Snap Originals, “Can’t Talk Now” and “Two Sides,” produced by New Form, as well as its successful series “No Days Off,” “Dunk League,” and “Whistle Worthy.” The Vertical Networks acquisition illustrates Whistle’s continued investment in Snap-related business.
Vertical Networks is known for the popular Snapchat show “Phone Swap,” now in its seventh season, and the Snapchat Publisher Story Brother, which boasts over 20 million subscribers.
“There’s a natural synergy between Whistle and Vertical Networks, and we are excited to welcome aboard their team,” said Michael Cohen, president of Whistle. “We both have mobile first in our DNA, we invest in data-backed IP creation, and we produce relatable content optimized by platform to engage today’s audiences through both short and longer formats.”
Jordan Hill, a Vertical Networks veteran, will be promoted to SVP and general manager and will report to Cohen. New Form’s Kathleen Grace will work closely alongside Hill and Cohen to execute the Vertical Networks post-acquisition plan and consult on Brother’s programming strategy as well as Whistle’s larger content slate. Following the integration period, Grace will concentrate on her executive producer endeavors including Snap Originals “Two Sides” and “Can’t Talk Now;” Quibi’s untitled fashion documentary series and the sci-fi drama starring Don Cheadle, Emily Mortimer and Helena Howard called “Don’t Look Deeper;” and numerous other yet-to-be-announced projects in-development.