About Boardroom

Boardroom is a sports, media and entertainment brand co-founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman and focused on the intersection of sports and entertainment. Boardroom’s flagship media arm features premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward. Boardroom’s ecosystem encompasses B2B events and experiences (such as its renowned NBA and WNBA All-Star events) as well as ticketed conferences such as Game Plan in partnership with CNBC. Our advisory arm serves to consult and connect athletes, brands and executives with our broader network and initiatives.

Recent film and TV projects also under the Boardroom umbrella include the Academy Award-winning Two Distant Strangers (Netflix), the critically acclaimed scripted series SWAGGER (Apple TV+) and Emmy-nominated documentary NYC Point Gods (Showtime).

Boardroom’s sister company, Boardroom Sports Holdings, features investments in emerging sports teams and leagues, including the Major League Pickleball team, the Brooklyn Aces, NWSL champions Gotham FC, and MLS’ Philadelphia Union.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

The Skydance, David Ellison Era is Set to Begin at Paramount

Skydance Media Founder David Ellison is Paramount Global’s new CEO after an $8 billion merger. Get to know Hollywood’s newest power player.

After months of negotiation and speculation, Skydance Media agreed to an $8 billion merger deal with Paramount Global early Monday, with private equity firms RedBird Capital Partners and KKR reportedly contributing roughly $2 billion of the investment.

Skydance Founder David Ellison will take over as CEO of the combined company in a deal that won’t become official until the third quarter of 2025 pending regulatory reviews and approvals. He will now oversee Paramount’s vast stable of legacy holdings, including CBS, Paramount Pictures, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Showtime, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central. That’s a mountain of responsibility for the 41-year-old Ellison, who will now become one of Hollywood and entertainment’s biggest power players.

So, who is David Ellison? Boardroom breaks down how he got here and why you should be paying attention to the soon-to-be Paramount CEO.

SIGN UP FOR INSIDE THE BOARDROOM

A weekly newsletter that goes long on the biggest stories in sports business, from Boardroom’s Shlomo Sprung.

Sent weekly on Fridays

The son of billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, David attended USC’s School of Cinematic Arts specializing in acting and production. Ellison founded Skydance in 2006 with the goal of producing projects in feature film, television, animation, video games, and sports. Three years later, Skydance’s first major move was a five-year financing, production, and distribution agreement with none other than Paramount Pictures. That included a $350 million funding round for the company that boasted an investment from Larry.

Skydance and Paramount then went on to co-produce several wildly profitable blockbuster hits, including True Grit, Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Star Trek Into Darkness, and World War Z. In 2013, Skydance launched its television division, whose first hit show, Grace & Frankie, debuted on Netflix in 2015. Other television projects include Amazon Prime Video‘s Jack Ryan and Reacher franchises, an upcoming Terminator Zero show for Netflix, and Cross for Amazon Prime based on the popular James Patterson book character.

Ellison then raised an additional $700 million in 2015, including a $500 million line of credit with J.P. Morgan Chase. The next year, Skydance launched an Interactive division to develop games on VR platforms and other emerging immersive technologies. First-person shooter Archangel launched in 2017 on PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift, with other projects including a pair of games based on the hit zombie TV series The Walking Dead.

Skydance has slowly taken on minority stakeholders over time, including Tencent in 2018, RedBird in 2020, and KKR in 2022, the latter of which led a $400 million strategic investment round. Ellison expanded the company to sports in 2021, quickly launching production deals in 2022 with Meadowlark Media, Religion of Sports, and most notably with the NFL and NFL Films on documentaries and original non-fiction programming.

Also in 2022, Skydance ended its exclusive film production deal with Paramount in favor of a multi-year pact with Apple TV+. But this didn’t stop Ellison from working with Paramount, with the 2022 release of Top Gun: Maverick earning nearly $1.5 billion globally, winning an Academy Award for “Best Sound” and a nomination for Best Picture.

Ellison’s leadership and fundraising abilities gradually built Skydance into a global entertainment force, putting the company in a position to progress from helping Paramount produce films to taking over the legendary company entirely. His relationship with Paramount and its longtime controlling stakeholders, the Redstone family, surely helped Skydance earn the trust to be reliable stewards of one of Hollywood’s premier legacy brands.

Now at just 41, David Ellison has to navigate Paramount through the constantly evolving streaming landscape, cable’s decreasing influence, maintaining CBS’ status as the most-watched broadcast network, and balancing Paramount Pictures’ longstanding IP with creating new and innovative bankable movie franchises.

Ellison now finds himself squarely in the spotlight. Can he handle one of Hollywood’s biggest executive roles?

Read More:

Shlomo Sprung

Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.

About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.