Ben Silverman In Discussions To Launch New Company, Eyes Electus Exit

Will Ben Silverman, founder of Reveille and Electus, start anew, launching a third production company?

I hear Silverman is at the end of a negotiating window with Electus’ parent company, Barry Diller’s IAC, as his contract is coming up. But unlike the 2013 renegotiations, when Silverman ended up re-upping, I hear he is leaning toward leaving this time.

While he has been fulfilling his duties at Electus, where he executive produces the series Jane The Virgin, Marco Polo and Flaked, Silverman also quietly has been meeting with potential investors. I hear Silverman has secured up to $200 million in financial backing, with multiple domestic and international suitors — ranging from media and digital companies to private equity firms to individual investors — interested.

At the last contract renegotiation, in which Silverman only extended his deal for a short term, his management responsibilities changed as he focused on the strategic growth of the company and overseeing its acquisitions, digital, advertising and scripted business, with longtime associate Chris Grant taking over day-to-day oversight on the unscripted side and COO and head of digital Drew Buckley doing the same with College Humor. Also, part of Silverman’s previous contract re-up was Electus integrating its digital business to take on more expansion or a sale. It led to the creation of Electus Digital, a combination of IAC’s CollegeHumor Media and some Electus digital and studio properties, and the launch of Big Breakfast, a full-service production company.

But, despite efforts by Silverman and the Electus team, the company has not been able to grow much through acquisitions as IAC has been holding the purse strings pretty tight. Silverman had been interested in bringing talent management companies into the fold, with Principato-Young believed to be among the firms in which Electus has made an investment as hinted by the two companies’ co-producing effort on the upcoming Will Arnett Netflix series Flaked.

I hear Silverman is interested in launching a new company where he can be entrepreneur. I hear he may be leaning toward aligning with an established media company owning a network, which would help get the new outfit’s pipeline going by putting shows on the air. Silverman’s first production company, Reveille, also was backed by Diller when he was at Universal. With Universal and NBC merging soon after Reveille’s launch, Reveille was able to amp up the volume of production pretty quickly with orders by NBC for such series as The Biggest Loser and The Office. This is harder to achieve when partnered with an independent company like IAC.

There also is a possibility that Silverman might use the money raised from investors to buy out Electus, though that is considered unlikely as the Electus library is generating money for IAC and is expected to continue to do so for years to come, making it a lucrative asset to keep.

If Silverman leaves, I hear he would do so without his key Electus executive team, which is staying put and at least some have another year on their contracts.

Whatever it is, Silverman’s next chapter is expected to include public service involvement. Silverman is an active philanthropist who has supported causes such as women empowerment and immigrant rights with Jane The Virgin and Ugly Betty. He also collaborated with the White House to promote a healthy lifestyle on The Biggest Loser. 

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