Magic Johnson Takes Stake and Chairman Post at Vibe Holdings

Magic Johnson Take Stake, Chairman Post Vibe Holdings
Retired basketball star Magic Johnson agreed to invest in Vibe Holdings LLC , a magazine and television company focused on the urban market, along with billionaire Ron Burkle, according to a person familiar with the deal. Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Retired basketball star Magic Johnson agreed to invest in Vibe Holdings LLC and become chairman of the New York-based magazine and television company, which focuses on the urban market.

Johnson, 51, is making the investment with Yucaipa Cos., an investment firm headed by Ron Burkle, according to a statement today. They’re becoming Vibe investors alongside Leo Hindery, the former cable and telecom executive, whose InterMedia Partners LP already owns a stake in the company.

“We will redefine Vibe Holdings as the center of influence for the coveted urban audience,” Johnson said in the statement. A spokeswoman for Johnson, Marvet Britto, declined to say how much Johnson and Burkle had invested in Vibe Holdings.

Vibe, which targets multicultural consumers with entertainment, culture and lifestyle content, includes Vibe magazine, Uptown magazine, more than 25 websites and the Soul Train TV show, with its library of 35 years of musical performances, according to the company’s website. Last month, Vibe began publishing Uptown Professional, a business title.

Robert Miller, who co-founded Vibe magazine in 1993 along with musician Quincy Jones, will become chairman of the Vibe and Uptown magazine group. Miller is a former publisher of Time Warner Inc.’s Sports Illustrated and Time magazines. Len Burnett and Brett Wright will remain co-chief executive officers at Vibe and Uptown magazines, and Kenard Gibbs will remain as chief executive of Soul Train, the statement said.

“With the help of our new partners we believe we can build a leading platform for our core audiences and for advertisers,” Peter Kern, a managing partner at San-Francisco-based InterMedia, said in the statement.

Restaurants, Fitness

Johnson said last year that an affiliate of his company held “advanced discussions” for him to purchase Johnson Publishing Co., owner of Ebony and Jet magazines, but was unable to reach an agreement.

At the time, Johnson said that he remained interested in African-American media. Since then, Magic Johnson Enterprises liquidated its interest in about 105 Starbucks coffee shops, giving Starbucks Corp. all the equity in those stores, according to Lisa Magnino, a spokeswoman for the company.

Johnson also sold his stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, the National Basketball Association franchise where he once starred, the team said in October. Johnson has partnerships with several other companies, including 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc. and T.G.I. Friday’s Inc.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE