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It’s no secret that Reese Witherspoon’s net worth is high. According to Forbes, a whopping $240 million!
What many fans don’t know, though, is that it wasn’t just acting that allowed the blond beauty to amass her not-so-small fortune. Like Jessica Alba, business ventures helped give Reese’s bank account a boost.
Reese’s film debut was in 1991, as a teenager, where she appeared in The Man in the Moon, in which she more than held her own with established stars as Sam Waterston and Gail Strickland. Although much of that net worth was earned as an actress — via such classics as Legally Blonde, Walk the Line, and Water for Elephants — she is also an extremely savvy businesswoman.
In 2007, Avon named Reese Witherspoon its “global ambassador.” That has been more than a nice title and a photo op. In Reese’s own words, Avon “does incredible things for women through entrepreneurship and philanthropy,” and her first task as its global ambassador was an address at the United Nations. Following that, “I was able to lobby against domestic violence. I got to sit with Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton to discuss important issues. I visited Brazil, Russia, Poland, Japan, and several other countries, where I spoke about local programs, awarded grants and promoted breast cancer screenings.”
Her involvement with Avon has not been limited to the philanthropic side. She also appears in commercials and has been involved in the development of some cosmetic products.
In 2015, Witherspoon launched a clothing line, accessories, and home decor brand she named Draper James (in honor of her grandparents). The project raised $17 million from venture capitalists (in two rounds) in the course of that year. Stone Canyon Industries and JH Partners are among the investors. Draper James launched that May as a website. Five months later, Draper James opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Nashville, Tennessee. Other stores have followed, and Draper James has since entered into lucrative partnerships with, among others, the subscription service Birchbox and the footwear retailer Jack Rogers.
Draper James’ products are now sold in all 50 states and at least 15 countries. Reese Witherspoon remains active as its creative director.
Hello Sunshine, the media company founded by Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rodsky in 2016, is a different matter again: a privately held entity created to tell women-centered stories on film, television, and digital platforms. It has also become the parent of Pacific Standard, the production company Witherspoon had founded four years before.
Rodsky is the former chair of Strategic Group, a prominent marketing agency representing “aspirational brands.” The company has produced The Morning Show and Truth be Told for Apple TV+ and the Hulu Limited Series Little Fires Everywhere. It expects that it will be both profitable and cash-flow positive this year.
This April, Time listed Hello Sunshine as one of the “Time100 Most Influential Companies.”
Formally speaking, Hello Sunshine is a joint venture between Reese Witherspoon and Rodsky on the one hand and Otter Media on the other, and Otter Media is itself a joint venture between AT&T and the Chernin Group.
1 Billion Dollar Valuation?
Interest in Reese Witherspoon, and in Hello Sunshine, spiked in recent days with news that the media company may be up for sale, and with speculation on how much it will prove to be worth.
What is the value of Hello Sunshine? The number could be as high as $1 billion. Why such a valuation? On the supply side because, given such productions as those listed, Hello Sunshine is a proven commodity. But also, on the demand side of the demand side, everyone is thirsty for new content.
Services like HBO Max, Paramount Plus, Peacock, Disney Plus: these are all fancy pipes. The more and the more elaborate the pipes, the more demand there is for content that can keep them full. Savvy as always, businesswoman Witherspoon may see this summer as a great time to offer Hello Sunshine as the water that can fill those pipes and soothe that thirst.
Indeed, only weeks ago Amazon agreed to pay $8.45 billion for the rights to Metro-Goldwin-Mayer’s legendary film library. Why? The assets are more respected but the thirst they satisfy is the same.
Apple is reportedly one of the companies that has expressed an interest in the purchase. The Wall Street Journal says there have been multiple overtures with expressions of interest.