Weinstein Company Bidders Down to Six, Sale Price Dips Below $500 Million

Bids for the embattled Weinstein Company have been narrowed down to six, the highest among them coming in at under $500 million, a new report says.

Half that price is an assumption of debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and any new owner would not inherit the presumably massive legal liability stemming from lawsuits over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while he ran the studio.

Lionsgate, Hollywood legacy and philanthropist Abigail Disney and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet account for half the bidders, TheWrap previously reported.

Also Read: 74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Investment firms Vine Alternative and Shamrock Capital, as well as Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, are also in the race.

While bidders like Contreras-Sweet have pledged to keep the studio in tact and engage its nearly 200 employees, some bidders are hoping to extract library titles and breakout money makers like TWC’s television hit “Project Runway.”

In late December, a TWC insider said Contreras-Sweet would be preferable to, say, Lionsgate as the latter would likely absorb the most attractive parts of the company and dump the rest.

Shareholders are expected to come up empty handed, WSJ said, thanks to considerable existing debt and litigation, like two class action lawsuits in the works against former CEO Harvey. Moelis & Co. is handling the sale.

Complicating matters for TWC is its suffocating debt. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap the company’s estimated total debt is about $900 million, however insiders pegged it at closer to $300 million outstanding. TWC re-upped a $500 million senior credit facility with a variety of institutions last year, which carries a 4 percent interest rate. And the company is only releasing about six to eight movies a year.

Also Read: Harvey Weinstein Made His Assistants Fetch Him Penile Injections

TWC’s speciality label Dimension Films has stagnated while the sale gets underway. Production is wrapping for a Spring release of Robert De Niro’s “War With Grandpa.” There’s also the finished awards hopeful “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, whose release was pushed after the October sexual harassment scandal ignited Hollywood.

Once a sale is complete TWC will rebrand and change its name, TheWrap reported in October.

Related stories from TheWrap:

74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Mira Sorvino Praises Her Father After He Threatens to Kill Harvey Weinstein

Paul Sorvino on Harvey Weinstein: ‘I Will Kill the Motherf—er’ (Video)

Bids for the embattled Weinstein Company have been narrowed down to six, the highest among them coming in at under $500 million, a new report says.

Half that price is an assumption of debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and any new owner would not inherit the presumably massive legal liability stemming from lawsuits over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while he ran the studio.

Lionsgate, Hollywood legacy and philanthropist Abigail Disney and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet account for half the bidders, TheWrap previously reported.

Investment firms Vine Alternative and Shamrock Capital, as well as Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, are also in the race.

While bidders like Contreras-Sweet have pledged to keep the studio in tact and engage its nearly 200 employees, some bidders are hoping to extract library titles and breakout money makers like TWC’s television hit “Project Runway.”

In late December, a TWC insider said Contreras-Sweet would be preferable to, say, Lionsgate as the latter would likely absorb the most attractive parts of the company and dump the rest.

Shareholders are expected to come up empty handed, WSJ said, thanks to considerable existing debt and litigation, like two class action lawsuits in the works against former CEO Harvey. Moelis & Co. is handling the sale.

Complicating matters for TWC is its suffocating debt. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap the company’s estimated total debt is about $900 million, however insiders pegged it at closer to $300 million outstanding. TWC re-upped a $500 million senior credit facility with a variety of institutions last year, which carries a 4 percent interest rate. And the company is only releasing about six to eight movies a year.

TWC’s speciality label Dimension Films has stagnated while the sale gets underway. Production is wrapping for a Spring release of Robert De Niro’s “War With Grandpa.” There’s also the finished awards hopeful “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, whose release was pushed after the October sexual harassment scandal ignited Hollywood.

Once a sale is complete TWC will rebrand and change its name, TheWrap reported in October.

Related stories from TheWrap:

74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Mira Sorvino Praises Her Father After He Threatens to Kill Harvey Weinstein

Paul Sorvino on Harvey Weinstein: 'I Will Kill the Motherf—er' (Video)

Gaming and Ad Tech Vets Launch Mobile App Management Company Maple Media

Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store are full of once-hot-but-still-useful apps with substantial user bases, but whose founders may have moved on leaving a product that could use a little sprucing up.

Enter Maple Media, a startup that just raised $30 million from private equity firm Shamrock Capital and aims to scoop up a bunch of apps that aren’t getting enough love, manage them — and most importantly — boost their revenue.

“Our goal is really to acquire assets that already have a very strong sizable user base,” Maple Media CEO Michael Ritter, a founding employee of mobile gaming company Jam City (formerly SGN), told TheWrap. “We look to improve the message of the apps, focusing on retention and monetization.”

The second part of the plan, Ritter said, is to acquire enough apps to form substantial verticals in areas like gaming, entertainment and productivity, which would give Maple scale enticing to advertisers (who often have a hard time reaching the mobile app demographic on linear television).

Also Read: Twentieth Century Fox Launches Movie of the Day App on Apple TV

Ritter and Maple Chief Operating Officer Clark Landry, a veteran tech investor who’s sold companies to the likes of Vivendi and taken others public, said managing and optimizing a mature app is a much different animal from creating one.

“It’s a really different skill set for a studio to develop an initial product or app and then once its live on the market place to manage it and monetize it,” he said. “Users expect a lot more from their apps, and these studios aren’t necessarily cut out to handle it from a skills standpoint or knowhow standpoint.”

But with Maple’s official launch Wednesday, Ritter said, game manufacturers can outsource that part and cash out in the meantime.

Also Read: Apple Has No Interest in Buying a Studio, Content Chief Eddy Cue Says

“It’s a great way for studios to monetize and liquidate their assets,” he said.

Alan Resnikoff, a partner at Shamrock, said he’s been scouring the gaming and app sectors for suitable investments, but being a PE firm and not a swing-for-the-fences venture capital shop meant finding something with the appropriate risk profile was hard. However, he became a believer in Maple’s concept, and more importantly, its management team.

“We think it’s a pretty creative approach,” he said. “Also, they’re sort of uniquely qualified to go after it.”

Also Read: Watch Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.I.Am Compete for Tech Glory in ‘Planet of the Apps’ Trailer (Video)

Showing more relevant ads that users engage with is one way to increase revenue, Ritter said, but the company employs plenty of non-advertising methods, such as introducing various price points to appeal to a broader mix of users around the world. Landry said stuffing apps full of ads is not going to be Maple’s approach.

And while Landry said conversations with app developers don’t always lead to a deal with Maple Media, he’s confident the company has found an opportunity in identifying some legit pain points.

“There are very few that we speak to that don’t have issues that we could potentially help them out with,” Landry said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.I.Am Compete for Tech Glory in ‘Planet of the Apps’ Trailer (Video)

Twentieth Century Fox Launches Movie of the Day App on Apple TV

Apple Has No Interest in Buying a Studio, Content Chief Eddy Cue Says

Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store are full of once-hot-but-still-useful apps with substantial user bases, but whose founders may have moved on leaving a product that could use a little sprucing up.

Enter Maple Media, a startup that just raised $30 million from private equity firm Shamrock Capital and aims to scoop up a bunch of apps that aren’t getting enough love, manage them — and most importantly — boost their revenue.

“Our goal is really to acquire assets that already have a very strong sizable user base,” Maple Media CEO Michael Ritter, a founding employee of mobile gaming company Jam City (formerly SGN), told TheWrap. “We look to improve the message of the apps, focusing on retention and monetization.”

The second part of the plan, Ritter said, is to acquire enough apps to form substantial verticals in areas like gaming, entertainment and productivity, which would give Maple scale enticing to advertisers (who often have a hard time reaching the mobile app demographic on linear television).

Ritter and Maple Chief Operating Officer Clark Landry, a veteran tech investor who’s sold companies to the likes of Vivendi and taken others public, said managing and optimizing a mature app is a much different animal from creating one.

“It’s a really different skill set for a studio to develop an initial product or app and then once its live on the market place to manage it and monetize it,” he said. “Users expect a lot more from their apps, and these studios aren’t necessarily cut out to handle it from a skills standpoint or knowhow standpoint.”

But with Maple’s official launch Wednesday, Ritter said, game manufacturers can outsource that part and cash out in the meantime.

“It’s a great way for studios to monetize and liquidate their assets,” he said.

Alan Resnikoff, a partner at Shamrock, said he’s been scouring the gaming and app sectors for suitable investments, but being a PE firm and not a swing-for-the-fences venture capital shop meant finding something with the appropriate risk profile was hard. However, he became a believer in Maple’s concept, and more importantly, its management team.

“We think it’s a pretty creative approach,” he said. “Also, they’re sort of uniquely qualified to go after it.”

Showing more relevant ads that users engage with is one way to increase revenue, Ritter said, but the company employs plenty of non-advertising methods, such as introducing various price points to appeal to a broader mix of users around the world. Landry said stuffing apps full of ads is not going to be Maple’s approach.

And while Landry said conversations with app developers don’t always lead to a deal with Maple Media, he’s confident the company has found an opportunity in identifying some legit pain points.

“There are very few that we speak to that don’t have issues that we could potentially help them out with,” Landry said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Watch Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.I.Am Compete for Tech Glory in 'Planet of the Apps' Trailer (Video)

Twentieth Century Fox Launches Movie of the Day App on Apple TV

Apple Has No Interest in Buying a Studio, Content Chief Eddy Cue Says