Wheelhouse Entertainment, the talent and content hub founded last year by entrepreneur Brent Montgomery – and that recently launched Kimmelot, a new entertainment and media venture with Jimmy Kimmel, who is now also a partner in Wheelhouse – announced today an investment and partnership deal with digital content studio Portal A.
Founded by childhood friends Nate Houghteling, Kai Hasson and Zach Blume, Portal A works with a new generation of emerging talent to develop, produce and distribute award-winning branded and original content. With its work having generated over one billion views, the company has distinguished itself in the crowded field of digital content creators, achieving 500% revenue growth since 2013 – significant, given the recent period of attrition and downsizing in the digital content field – and amassing a client roster that includes Google, Clorox, HBO, Warner Bros, Lenovo, Amazon, Lyft, YouTube, Universal Pictures, P&G and more. Portal A has produced original series with streaming platforms such as YouTube Originals, Crunchyroll and Disney Digital, and was recently named Best Content Marketing Agency by Digiday, as well as Cynopsis’ Digital Studio of the Year.
Through this collaboration, Wheelhouse and Portal A will offer their combined resources – including Wheelhouse’s creative and large-scale production capabilities, industry relationships and access to talent, and Portal A’s expertise in youth-driven and Millennial-focused content, relationships with emerging talent, and a proven track record in branded entertainment – to traditional and new media platforms, and to brands, CMOs and ad agencies. The deal also represents the first time Portal A has taken on an outside investor since its founding in 2008.
“Having looked seriously at a lot of digital companies, Portal A is a unicorn; their success is driven by the trifecta of client service, exquisite creative and unique culture – and they run a profitable business, which is rare in the wild west of digital,” said Montgomery. “Together, we will develop an aggressive plan for growth for these incredible content creators who can work at a high level with brands, as well as with talent that can evolve into brands. It’s exactly the kind of investment and partnership that drove me to create Wheelhouse. And while those of us who hail from the TV world are psyched to get millions of impressions, the work these guys make reaches billions. Portal A is the first significant piece of a much larger marketing play for Wheelhouse."
Wheelhouse Entertainment chief strategy officer Ed Simpson, added: “Nate, Kai and Zach thrive on delivering results and disrupting the status quo through innovation, creativity and attention to the bottom line; it’s a perfect marriage with the Wheelhouse philosophy. We cannot wait to expand Portal A’s already robust content business, and integrate with our expertise in entertainment and production, and access to top talent via our various production deals and joint ventures.”
Portal A founders Houghteling, Hasson and Blume said in a joint statement: “We started this company because we saw an opportunity to go against the grain of our industry and produce premium, breakthrough content for a new generation. A decade later, our work is seen by a global viewing audience and we’ve brought together the brightest team in digital entertainment, while the core values of the company remain the same. We’re thrilled to partner with Wheelhouse and visionary entrepreneurs like Brent Montgomery and Jimmy Kimmel, and are fired up for the next chapter."
Portal A recently announced a string of major projects for brands such as HBO, Universal Pictures, Amazon, and Lenovo, among others. Portal A launched its eighth consecutive ‘Rewind’ with YouTube in December, and its breakout work for Clorox included multiple collaborations with top digital creators and NBA Superstar Stephen Curry – leading Portal A to launch Curry’s YouTube presence with new original series. Portal A’s originals division, which is represented by WME, announced two new projects with YouTube Originals, the unscripted dance special One Shot and the documentary feature profiling LGBTQ communities across the country, State of Pride.