Virgin Acquires KAABOO Festival: Exclusive

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Jason Felts to lead festival brand along with new Virgin Fest event next year

The five-year-old KAABOO festival brand has been acquired by Virgin Fest, the music festival arm of Richard Branson's multinational venture capital conglomerate ​Virgin Group Ltd, Billboard has learned. 

The Del Mar, California festival's partner and chief brand officer Jason Felts will lead Virgin Fest as its chief executive and oversee the launch of Virgin Fest next year, possibly in Los Angeles. He'll also continue to oversee KAABOO, which is moving to Petco Park in San Diego five years after first launching at the nearby Del Mar fairgrounds.

KAABOO was launched in 2015 by Bryan Gordon and Seth Wolkov of investment firm Madison Companies and quickly became a powerhouse event in California known for its contemporary bookings and high-end offerings to festival goers at all levels. The sale to Virgin Fest, which came just days before the beginning of this year's festival, is a 100% asset sale and positions the KAABOO brand to continue to serve a late millennial and Gen X audience while the planned Virgin Fest will target an early 20s demographic. The acquisition was brokered on behalf of Virgin Fest by Ken Deutsch at Latham & Watkins.

Since launching in Del Mar, KAABOO has expanded to the Cayman Islands and to Texas under a partnership with the Dallas Cowboys. Earlier this month, Billboard reported that KAABOO organizers were unable to reach an agreement with their Cayman partners, landowner and development company Dart, preventing the event from returning in 2020. 

It's unclear if the Texas event will return next year, but KAABOO's flagship fest in Southern California has been a hit with music fans and the sale to Virgin solidifies its long term viability. This year's concert, which featured Dave Matthews Band and Mumford and Sons, sold out for the third year in a row. Passes for next year's Sept. 18-20 KAABOO San Diego at Petco Park are on sale now.


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