It has been in the wind for a while that WME once again would be known as Endeavor, the name of the Ari Emanuel- and Patrick Whitesell-led talent agency that merged with WMA in 2009 and was rechristened WME. It proved true, sort of.
The agency still is going to be called WME, but its parent company has formed a new holding company, Endeavor, which will take on the full portfolio of owned and operated brands formerly under the WME | IMG banner.
Also buried in the announcement of these changes, Emanuel is now the lone CEO of the new entity. Whitesell has become Executive Chairman. Both continue to sit on the company board.
I’m sure that Emanuel and the Endeavor gang hated to give up that name eight years ago. It evokes the agency’s origins, when Emanuel, Tom Strickler, David Greenblatt and Rick Rosen who backed up a BMW Sedan to ICM headquarters where they worked as agents. Under the cover of night, they drove away with all their client files. They formed Endeavor hours later, and promptly were sued by ICM’s chief Jeff Berg, even though the clients who left with them conveniently hadn’t signed agency agreements to continue at ICM as I recall.
Years later, former ICM titan Jim Wiatt was running WMA when the Endeavor and WMA merger was struck — he was voted out as chief before the merger was finalized — so there is a lot of Hollywood history there, even if the fast-growing agency hardly resembles the merged entity that became WME in 2009.
“WME | IMG represented a pivotal moment in our company’s history, but it does not accurately reflect the extent of our diversity or indicate where we’re headed,” Emanuel said. “In creating Endeavor, we now have a holding company that represents the very definition of the word itself, constantly striving to push boundaries on behalf of our clients and owned properties.”
Added Whitesell: “Our business at its core remains rooted in access, service and creativity. The one substantial difference is that unlike 20 years ago, we’re now sitting at the center of an incredible global network. We have the relationships and the platforms to help our clients and partners extend their reach and bring their creative initiatives to life.”