Apple heiress Laurene Jobs is the leading investor in MACRO, the media company founded by former William Morris Endeavor Entertainment talent agent Charles King to produce film, television, and web series for the African American, Latino, and multicultural markets. Jobs’ Emerson Collective, a socially conscious fund, led an investment of at least $10 million in MACRO, as reported by Variety. The investment, described as eight figures, marks the first round of funding for the company, according to a statement from MACRO.
King left one of Hollywood’s most powerful agencies and announced the formation of his new company at the beginning of the year, with a focus on producing content for segments of the population he considers under-served, an approach reinforced by the success of one of his longtime client’s, Tyler Perry. At WME, King became the first African American at the company to rise to partner. He was named by BLACK ENTERPRISE as one of the “Top 50 Powerbrokers in Hollywood.”
“Charles is uniquely poised to lead what’s sure to become the kind of media company that will launch careers and brands, but more importantly, add rich value to our entertainment culture,” Jobs said in a statement. “Charles has an extraordinary set of creative instincts — he’s demonstrated a remarkable ability to amplify talent, trends and content to multi-cultural audiences throughout his career.”
Jobs is the widow of Apple computer founder Steve Jobs. Her net worth has been estimated by Bloomberg at $17.8 billion. Her Emerson Collective had previously funded education initiatives and provided seed money to small startups focused on health care.
Other investors in MACRO include Raymond McGuire, the global head of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup, tech entrepreneur Justin Yoshimura and Michael Kane, managing director of the Los Angeles-based private equity firm Caltius Capital, according to the statement. McGuire is on Macro’s advisory board, along with Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix Inc. MACRO did not describe the size of the individual investments in the initial funding round, but put the total infusion in the eight-figure range.
Insiders report that Jobs and the other investors are betting that King can prosper by serving an increasingly diverse domestic populace that’s watching TV in many new ways. The success of TV programs like Empire and critical praise for Jane the Virgin and Fresh Off the Boat have renewed interest in casting a wider array of actors and actresses.
King touched upon the upswing in multicultural content due to the success of such shows at Black Enterprise’s 2015 Entrepreneur’s Summit, during panel discussion, “It’s Called Show Business,” moderated by Shartia Brantley, co-host of Black Enterprise Women of Power TV. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in film and TV as audiences consume more of our content,” King told a crowded audience. “Two major studios have even refocused their vision for multicultural audiences. The reason I launched my company was to show we can have ownership and tell our stories.”
Macro has set up projects with talented filmmakers. Craig Brewer directed Hustle & Flow, featuring a cast led by Terrence Howard, and Ryan Coogler wrote and directed the critically praised Fruitvale Station.
King called the newly-announced investors “boundary-pushing, innovative thinkers and leaders in their respective fields of technology, finance and media.” He added, “Their endorsement enables Macro to create universally themed premium content for the African American, Latino and multicultural market, which has been vastly under-served for too long.”