Essence Communications Inc. is once again a 100 percent African-American owned independent company. It was announced Wednesday (Jan. 3) that the venerable multi-platform media firm — whose assets include the popular Essence Festival — has been acquired from Time Inc. by Essence Ventures LLC. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
The acquisition follows the late Nov. 2017 announcement that parent company Time Inc. had been purchased by Meredith Corp. for $2.8 billion. Last July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Time was looking to sell its majority stake in Essence by the end of 2017.
Essence president Michelle Ebanks will maintain her stewardship of the company, founded in 1970, and join its board of directors. Ebanks and Essence’s all black female executive team will also have an equity stake in the company moving forward.
“This acquisition of Essence represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves,” said Ebanks in a statement. “In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”
According to a press release, Essence will focus on expanding its digital businesses and international growth “by planting its rich content ecosystem, including the flagship magazine, digital properties and successful live event franchises, in more global markets.” In addition to the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans (returning to New Orleans this year July 5-8), Essence platforms include the Grammy Week event Black Women in Music, the Black Women in Hollywood Awards television special on The Oprah Winfrey Network and the Essence Festival in Durban, South Africa.
Founded in 2017 by entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Richelieu Dennis, Essence Ventures is an independent African American-owned company dedicated to merging content, community and commerce to target the cultural and lifestyle needs of women of color.
“We are thrilled to work with Michelle and her talented team to provide the necessary resources and support to continue to grow the engagement and influence of the Essence brand and transform this business,” added Essence Ventures chairperson Dennis. “Our focus here will be on ensuring that Essence reaches its full potential via heightened capabilities, technology, products and touch points that super-serve the interests of black women locally and globally.”