NEW YORK -- Eric Thorkilsen, a veteran media and publishing executive, and TZP Growth Partners l, L.P., a New York-based private equity fund and part of the TZP Group, announced that they have entered into an agreement with Time Inc. to acquire This Old House Ventures, LLC and all of its associated media properties. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
A leading multi-platform home improvement brand, This Old House offers homeowners trusted information and expert advice through two highly rated and award-winning television series, one of the category's leading and fastest growing online destinations, a highly-regarded magazine and comprehensive line of books, as well as capabilities including custom video production, digital marketing, brand licensing, live events and custom publishing.
As a fully integrated, multi-media business, This Old House Ventures, LLC, will manage all of its own core business functions, including original television production, digital content and operations, advertising sales, magazine editorial, brand licensing, and marketing from its new headquarters in Stamford, CT beginning summer 2016. Time Inc. will remain involved with the lifestyle brand through long-term service agreements with the new owners to provide back office operations including magazine production, consumer subscription marketing, and fulfillment and distribution services. TZP Growth Partners is the third fund raised by the TZP Group, a New York-based private equity firm with over $700 million in committed capital across its family of funds. The investment in This Old House Ventures, LLC will be TZP Growth Partners' fourth since it raised $177 million in June of 2015. Portico Capital Securities served as financial adviser to the acquirers.
Thorkilsen, who has been named Chief Executive Officer of This Old House Ventures, is currently Founder and CEO of Lifestyle Media Partners, Inc., (LMP, Inc.) a strategy, management and production company that identifies and develops existing trademarks and intellectual property across multi-media distribution and revenue streams. He also served as CEO of Edible Communities, Inc., a division of LMP, Inc., acquired in 2013. Thorkilsen has created a transition team that will guide LMP following his departure.
It was during Thorkilsen's nearly 30-year career at Time Inc., where he held senior domestic and international circulation and publishing leadership positions across the Company's leading brands including Time, People and Sports Illustrated, that he was first introduced to This Old House. During his tenure at Time Inc., Thorkilsen set out to create a paradigm shift in publishing, launching what would become two of the media industry's most trusted brands across multiple platforms. In 1990, he introduced Martha Stewart Living and then, in 1995, became founding executive of This Old House Ventures Inc. where he remained for just under a decade.
For both brands, Thorkilsen orchestrated a new business model whereby multiple distribution vehicles--including print, television, digital, and licensing--were launched under individual brand umbrellas providing a compelling opportunity for advertisers and consumers.
Commenting on the deal, Thorkilsen said: "I have been a champion of This Old House for the better part of three decades and it is an honor to be able to rejoin this extraordinary franchise and bring it to a new generation of fans. I could not have made this leap without the support of my partners at TZP, who were steadfast in their resolve that this was a worthy investment."
"I thank the This Old House team for their hard work and commitment to Time Inc. over many years," said Time Inc. Chairman and CEO, Joe Ripp. "They've got a great new home, and with Eric and TZP Group at the helm, I know they will continue to thrive and succeed."
The This Old House brand is comprised of a destination website, thisoldhouse.com, which boasts a robust and passionate audience attracting 5.5 million monthly unique users, including 2.9 million via mobile devices (Omniture). This Old House Magazine reaches almost one million subscribers and the companion TV series, "This Old House" and "Ask This Old House" continue to perform on the awards front with 18 Emmy Awards and 95 nominations, (including Daytime Emmy nominations last week for both in the category of "Outstanding Lifestyle Program"). The series consistently post the highest ratings in the home improvement category, as well as being in the top 10 of all programs on PBS.
Featuring America's favorite team of experts, host Kevin O'Connor, master carpenter Norm Abram, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook, "This Old House" is one of television's longest-running brands and features a trusted and formidable source of expertise, along with wit, humor, and a great sense of camaraderie. Both series are currently in production and will premiere for a 37th season and 15th season, respectively, on PBS stations this fall. WGBH Boston will continue to distribute the programs. Chris Wolfe retains his role as executive producer of both series.
As part of the transition, This Old House magazine will now be helmed by publishing veteran Susan Wyland, who has been named editor-in-chief. Scott Omelianuk, This Old House's top editor for the last 12 years, has decided not to make the transition and is leaving the brand to pursue a new opportunity in the television space. Joining Wyland as part of the new senior management team will be Joe Brady, Chief Financial Officer, Michael Burton, Chief Revenue Officer, Michael Gutkowski, Chief Digital Officer and Chris Wolfe, Executive Producer, This Old House & Ask This Old House and General Manager, This Old House Productions.
Wyland said: "I am absolutely thrilled to join a team so deeply committed to the creation of content that is both inspirational and aspirational." She added: "This Old House has proven itself to be a brand with enormous staying power and I can't imagine a more fulfilling or satisfying role than the one I will start in the coming weeks. I look forward to working with this very talented staff so that This Old House continues to be America's premier destination when it comes to all things home."
Bill Hunscher, TZP Growth Partner, said: "We see our investment in This Old House Ventures as an incredibly compelling value proposition in the home category, driven by our high regard for the brand's well-earned stature and reputation. Through Eric's stewardship, we believe that we can carefully accelerate the growth, unlock its enormous potential and ensure that This Old House thrives for years to come."
Kevin O'Connor, host of "This Old House" and "Ask This Old House," said: "Having Eric back in the family again is, and pardon the pun, like coming home for me. When I first joined the series, Eric was steering the ship and I was always impressed by his passion and enthusiasm. It was contagious and I feel fortunate that we will have the opportunity to work together to make This Old House even stronger than it is today."
About TZP Group LLC
TZP Group, a private equity firm with more than $700MM under management across its family of funds, is focused on investments in business and consumer services companies. Founded in 2007, TZP targets companies with solid historical profitability and sustainable value propositions and aims to be a "Partner of Choice" for business owners and management teams. TZP seeks to invest primarily in closely-held, private companies where the owners desire to retain a significant stake and partner with an investor with complementary operating and financial skills to accelerate company growth, increase profitability, and maximize the value of their retained stake. TZP leverages its investment professionals' operating and transaction experience to provide strategic and operational guidance, and is dedicated to long-term value creation. For more information, please visit www.tzpgroup.com.