Our Investment in Hyphen Media
One of the main reasons I started Hyphen Capital was to change the narrative around Asian American founders. Representation matters. Whether it’s on the big movie screen or in a children’s book, being able to see yourself as part of a story is so impactful for a young person. But being included is not enough, it’s just as important, if not more important, how those characters are portrayed. I rarely saw any Asian characters in books when I was a child, except for offensive books like Tikki Tikki Tembo. And the only actors that looked like me that I saw on the movie screen were insulting stereotypes like Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. I want my sons to see themselves as the protagonists of their children’s books and the heroes of the movies. This is why we invested in Hyphen Media. Besides the obviously great name, they are building a platform for underrepresented voices to be heard, which is something the entertainment industry needs right now. By creating content that represents the perspectives of people of color, audiences can see themselves and that’s extremely powerful.
An important study done by McKinsey & Company shows that Hollywood loses $10 billion in additional revenue because of the racial inequity and choosing not telling more Black stories.
By addressing the persistent racial inequities, the industry could reap an additional $10 billion in annual revenues — about 7 percent more than the assessed baseline of $148 billion. Fewer Black-led stories get told, and when they are, these projects have been consistently underfunded and undervalued, despite often earning higher relative returns than other properties.
Hyphen Media hopes to change that as the only podcast-first entertainment brand telling stories by and about people of color — for everybody. Experienced founders, Andrew Kuo and Kareem Rahma, have worked at companies like A+E Networks and The New York Times and are familiar with creating high quality content. Even though people of color make up a majority of the youth in America, they are only 28% of acting leads, 18% of podcast hosts, 15% of directors, 14% of writers and 9% of studio heads. Existing podcast networks are not telling their stories either. Hyphen Media hopes to fill that gap by building a premium podcast slate of fiction stories and non-fiction formats that generate original IP to generate long-tail value in film and television. This unique positioning and valuable library could lead to attractive M&A outcomes like Stitcher being sold to Sirius XM for $325M last year, Amazon acquiring Wondery last year for $300M, and Spotify buying Gimlet in 2019 for $230M. We believe that representation matters and that it can also provide a sizable return for investors.