Meadowlark, the new media company founded by ESPN veterans John Skipper and Dan Le Batard, has raised $12.6 million from an investor group that includes DraftKings, former Sony chairman Michael Lynton, and Ares Capital, an arm of the asset management firm co-founded by Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler.
The 11 backers also include Verance Capital, Wasserman and DAZN, Skipper’s former employer. They’re joined by Eric Jackson’s EMJ Capital, fashion entrepreneur Carmen Busquets (who is also Skipper’s partner) and three other individuals whose names weren’t immediately clear.
No investor put in more than $2 million, and none put in less than $500,000, an intentional effort to spread out the money—and equity—relatively evenly, according to someone familiar with the negotiations, who was granted anonymity because the matter is private.
Meadowlark, which launched in January, will use the capital both for upcoming projects and to make new hires. That expansion is one of the company’s immediate goals, alongside securing a distribution deal for Le Batard’s audio empire.
Skipper was ESPN’s president from 2012-17 before becoming executive chairman of streaming service DAZN, where he remains an advisor and board member. Le Batard left ESPN in January after nearly a decade at the company, taking with him the RSS feed to one the sports world’s most popular podcasts. Skipper is CEO of the new venture, and Le Batard is its flagship talent.
Last month the group unveiled its first new project, a podcast with Hank Azaria reprising his Jim Brockmire character which will debut in the coming weeks. The company also announced Laura Albero as its CFO and Bimal Kapadia as its COO, with Jemele Hill and Michael Schur joining as creative advisors.