Following the investor response – and subsequent finger-pointing, dropping-share-price and general fallout – from Facebook going public, there seemed to be a general feeling that the latest incarnation of the Internet boom was over. That may be true when it comes to dot coms going public, but the news today that Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries has been purchased by Legendary Entertainment suggests that there may be some heat left in the online fire just yet.
The union of both companies makes a lot of sense, from a market standpoint; both Nerdist and Legendary are examples of successes within the geek/nerd market, with Legendary finding success as a movie studio through initial offerings like Batman Begins, Superman Returns, Watchmen, The Dark Knight and Clash of The Titans (We can forgive Lady in the Water, because at the time that deal was done, people still had a good feeling about M. Night Shyamalan, right…?) and Nerdist being… well, the name says it all, really. Both companies have also aggressively expanded from their original purposes, and in such directions that it almost seems as if the two were always heading towards each other; Legendary announced the foundation of a digital division to develop games in 2009, followed by the announcement of Legendary Comics in 2010, and Legendary Television in 2011. Nerdist, meanwhile, evolved from humble beginnings as a podcast in 2008 to encompass an empire of multiple podcasts on a number of subjects, television productions for both BBC America and AMC (The Talking Dead) and, following a partnership with the website Geek Chic Daily in 2011, a YouTube Channel earlier this year.
According to Legendary’s official announcement of the deal, “Hardwick and [business partner Peter] Levin will continue in their current roles within Nerdist and will also take on the roles of co-presidents of Legendary’s digital business” as well as “work[ing] closely with Legendary’s executive management team on event management and comics-related operations.” Writing on the Nerdist site about the deal, Hardwick said Legendary was actually “acquiring the existing structure of Nerdist,” and that while he and Levin will maintain “absolute autonomy over the running” of Nerdist, they’ll gain additional roles within the larger Legendary structure, with Levin heading up “digital strategy” and Hardwick “digital content.”
“You won’t notice any change in the way we run things. Legendary was already an investor and you didn’t notice that. This exercise will be no different. The change you WILL notice is the breadth and quality of things we’ll now be able to create,” he explained. In the official announcement, Legendary COO Tim Connors reinforced this idea, saying that “With the acquisition, we’ll be empowered to more aggressively help Nerdist broaden their reach as an autonomous editorial brand, as well as pursue some exciting new ideas together.”