Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Diddy Out, Employees In: Revolt Announces Employee Ownership Model

Photo Credit: Instagram/revoltv
Revolt, the media company founded by Sean "Diddy" Combs, announced a new ownership structure Tuesday. The company revealed that its largest shareholder group is now composed of its employees.

In a historic shift, Combs' shares have been fully redeemed and retired, making employees the predominant stakeholders. 

"This is something we've been looking to do, waiting to do, believing that the people who give this company their blood, sweat, and tears should have some sort of upside opportunity if and when we win," said Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt, in an interview with Variety. He added, "All the data suggests that companies with incentive pools for their employees outperform the rest. They perform better financially, they perform better with company morale and culture, and they perform better as it relates to retention."

Revolt celebrated the transition on social media, posting, "It's a new day! REVOLT is honored and proud to announce that, in an unprecedented and historic move in the Black media space, our newly projected largest shareholder group are REVOLT's employees. Our mission to become the largest media company powered by creators and fueled by the culture continues. "

Founded by Combs over a decade ago, Revolt was initially a music industry-focused cable channel aimed at boosting Black representation on television. It has since grown into a significant player in digital media, known for popular video podcasts such as "Drink Champs," "The Jason Lee Show," and "Caresha Please."

Combs' decision to step down comes after a wave of legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed in November by his former girlfriend, singer Cassie, accusing him of years of physical and sexual abuse. Although the parties quickly settled the lawsuit, it spurred additional accusations from other women.

The fallout from these allegations has been substantial for Combs, 54. Besides relinquishing his position at Revolt, he sold his stake in a liquor brand for around $200 million and saw the end of a partnership with a New York charter school network he helped expand.

Samuels declined to disclose the amount paid for Combs' stake. With Combs out, Revolt operates without a majority owner. A representative for Combs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Revolt has distanced itself from Combs in recent months as legal issues and federal investigations into his conduct intensified. Despite the separation, the company has been impacted by the publicized allegations against its founder, including the release of hotel security footage by CNN showing Combs in a physical altercation with Cassie in 2016.
In response to recent developments, Revolt has provided access to individual and group therapists for employees. "Even before the lawsuits, Mr. Combs had little to no interaction with the team," said Samuels, who joined Revolt in 2020. He emphasized that the company's focus is on continuing its mission and supporting its staff through these changes.

Revolt, which has more than 110 full-time employees, continues to adapt to the digital age, with its business now largely driven by digital advertising and a significant presence on platforms like YouTube, where it has 2.8 million subscribers. The company also launched a podcast network in 2022, further diversifying its media offerings.

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