Can Magic Johnson Work His Magic at Vibe?
By Sheryl Nance-Nash
Can Magic Johnson work his magic yet again? The smart money suspects yes, as does Robert Miller, who, along with Quincy Jones, founded Vibe magazine in 1993.
Johnson teamed up with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies earlier this year to invest in Vibe Holdings. He became chairman of the New York-based company that owns Vibe, Vibe.com, Uptown and Uptown Professional magazines, the Soul Train TV show and library, as well as the Vibe Lifestyle Network, a collection of some 25 websites.
“Magic Johnson has a track record of success in developing businesses in the urban market. His credibility, resume and his knowledge in this space opens a lot of doors,” said Miller, chairman of the Vibe and Uptown Magazine group.
The infusion of capital will fuel expansion. “This will give us a lot of flexibility to grow our businesses and the opportunity to acquire or invest in others in the urban media space,” said Miller.
Though Johnson will not be involved in the day-to-day operations, when it comes to setting strategy and direction, he’ll be the go-to guy, much as he was for the Lakers.
“In addition to participating in, creating and agreeing to the big picture, at any point he will also have four or five initiatives to focus on,” Miller added.
Johnson’s moxie could move the needle for Vibe Holdings, which in the last year has found its sea legs. After advertising sales fell more than 40 percent in June of 2009, Vibe magazine shut down. Six months later it relaunched, under the new ownership of Uptown Media and private equity firm InterMedia Partners.