Vibe Holdings Buys BlackBook and Its Technology

Deal is part of Vibe's mobile strategy

Vibe Holdings investors Ron Burkle and Magic Johnson, along with Leo Hindery Jr.’s PE firm Intermedia Partners, have acquired BlackBook Media and its tech arm, Access Network Company.

The deal, which is being announced Friday morning, creates a combination of three magazines, Vibe, Uptown, and BlackBook, that will give the company a bigger young, hip and affluent audience to take to advertisers. But the main attraction to Vibe’s investors was the Access Network, which provides the software for mobile city guides for brands like Maxim and Elle as well as its own BlackBook.

“The technology piece is extremely important to this business,” said Len Burnett, who with Brett Wright will continue to serve as co-CEOs of the Vibe Lifestyle Network. “With BlackBook, we get a terrific brand and a history of thoughtful design and culture for a cool downtown audience, and in Access we get a cool technology network.”

Vibe is having its second life in print, having been shut down in 2009; it now publishes six times a year with a guaranteed circulation of 300,000. One of Vibe’s co-founders, Burnett left to lead Uptown, a magazine aimed at affluent African Americans, only to be reunited with Vibe when InterMedia Partners bought Vibe in 2009.

Magic Johnson and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies joined InterMedia as an investor in February 2011, and Johnson became chairman of Vibe Holdings as part of the investment.

Under the new structure, Johnson will continue as chairman of Vibe Holdings. Ari Horowitz, CEO of the Access Network, will become CEO of the new company, Vibe Media, with Burnett and Wright reporting to him. No financial details were disclosed.