Ariel’s Project Black® completes purchase of majority stake in My Code
Acquisition intended to accelerate Fortune 500 brand investment in multicultural audiences
New York, NY and Santa Monica, CA, November 30, 2023 – Private investment firm Ariel Alternatives, LLC (“Ariel Alternatives”) and My Code (“the Company”), a leading multicultural media and marketing services company, today announced the completion of a strategic transaction. Ariel Alternatives’ Project Black (“the Fund”) has acquired a 58.5 percent stake in the Company from existing shareholders Falfurrias Capital Partners, My Code management and employees, and other investors, at an enterprise valuation of $400 million, based on current and future performance projections. The sellers will continue to own a minority interest in the Company.
Founded in 2015, My Code offers solutions to brands that meet the rapidly growing need for multicultural marketing, with a mission to build a future for media and advertising where everyone is authentically represented. Formerly known as H Code, the Company was initially created to provide offerings for advertisers to reach U.S. Hispanic consumers. Since its launch, My Code has expanded its products to address Black, AANHPI and LGBTQIA+ audiences, among others. The Company’s network includes a deep collection of over 1,200 consumer media platforms that reach diverse audiences, in addition to owned and operated properties such as: 110-year-old El Diario, the U.S.’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper; Remezcla, one of the most influential digital media brands for the Latine community; and advertising-based video on demand platform Butaca TV. To date, My Code has helped brands invest over $250 million in advertising spend to reach multicultural audiences.
This acquisition enables My Code to pursue future expansion through alignment with an investor that shares its mission. Ariel Alternatives is the private equity subsidiary of global asset manager Ariel Investments, LLC (“Ariel”), the first African American-owned mutual fund company in the United States. This transaction is the third of Ariel Alternatives’ inaugural $1.45 billion fund, Project Black, which closed in February 2023.
In the long term, Project Black intends to transform portfolio companies like My Code into certified minority business enterprises (MBEs)* and position them as leading suppliers to Fortune 500 companies, fueling greater business diversity across the United States and beyond. In the near term, My Code expects to:
- Leverage Project Black’s capital to invest in growth initiatives.
- Benefit from Project Black’s CPO Council, a group of Fortune 500 Chief Procurement Officers that provides data on supplier demand across sectors. The Council’s insights, among others from Ariel’s vast procurement network, will aid the investment team as it provides My Code with potential client introductions.
- Welcome new directors to its board that bring critical and diverse expertise:
- Leslie A. Brun is Co-Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Ariel Alternatives and previous founder of Hamilton Lane, a leading global private markets investment management firm. He brings over four decades of financial expertise and an entrepreneurial spirit that will support My Code’s growth ambitions.
- Eric Brice is a Senior Principal of Ariel Alternatives. He will leverage two decades of private equity, venture capital, and investment banking experience to partner with the My Code team on pursuing future add-on product portfolio acquisitions.
- Clara Fagan, CFA®, MBA is a Senior Vice President of Ariel Alternatives. She brings over a decade of expertise with an emphasis on private markets and impact investing, helping My Code ensure that its business strategy aligns with its social purpose.
Mr. Brun commented: “Today marks our Fund’s first acquisition in the marketing and advertising sector. We chose to partner with a business that shares our passion for speaking directly to diverse audiences, ultimately closing the racial information and opportunity gap. We will work hard to scale My Code by providing access to both capital and customers.”
Parker Morse, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of My Code, continued: “We are exceptionally proud of the partnerships My Code has built over the last eight years with the many brands, creators, and publishers who have put their trust in our Company. We are humbled that Ariel Alternatives sees our growth potential as well. With a new investment partner by our side, we look forward to working with both new and existing clients to help them understand, embrace, and reach the underrepresented communities driving economic growth in our country.”
Alexander Jutkowitz, Executive in Residence at Falfurrias Capital, former Executive Chairman of My Code and current board member, concluded: “Falfurrias has been a proud partner to My Code during a period of growth these past few years, and we couldn’t be more excited for this next part of the journey alongside Ariel Alternatives. Our new partners bring a passion for aiming to take companies to the next level and catalyze growth, and together we believe My Code has a tremendous opportunity to continue expanding its footprint at the intersection of profits and purpose. I’m enthusiastic to continue serving on My Code’s board.”
Wilkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as legal advisor to Ariel Alternatives, and commercial and financial diligence were performed by McKinsey & Company and Deloitte LLP, respectively. Additional social impact diligence was conducted by Bridge House Advisors and Insight Sourcing Group on behalf of Ariel Alternatives. The Raine Group LLP served as financial advisor to My Code and Falfurrias Capital Partners, with Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. also advising. K&L Gates LLP served as legal advisor to My Code and Falfurrias Capital Partners, and Cooley LLP served as legal counsel to Parker Morse.
About Ariel Alternatives, LLC
Ariel Alternatives, LLC is a private asset management firm affiliated with Ariel Investments, LLC. It is an enterprise newly conceived for the times, built on a 40-year-old foundation. The firm’s inaugural fund, Project Black, aims to scale sustainable minority-owned businesses to serve as leading vendors to Fortune 500 companies—supporting supply chain diversity. The Fund invests in businesses that are not currently minority-owned, as well as existing minority-owned businesses, forging a new class of Black and brown entrepreneurs. Through its portfolio companies, Project Black plans to close the racial wealth gap by aiming to generate jobs and economic growth within underrepresented communities. These impact initiatives include, but are not limited to: increasing the accessibility of products to underserved customers; the hiring of diverse people from the entry level to the boardroom; the purchasing of contracts with minority-owned vendors and suppliers; and philanthropic partnerships with organizations supporting civil rights. For more information, please visit www.arielalternatives.com.
About Ariel Investments, LLC
Ariel Investments, LLC is a global value-oriented asset management firm founded in 1983. Ariel is headquartered in Chicago, with offices in New York City, San Francisco and Sydney. As of September 30, 2023, Ariel’s firm-wide assets under management totaled approximately $14.8 billion, which includes assets from Ariel Alternatives. Ariel serves individual and institutional investors through no-load mutual funds, collective investment trusts, private funds and separate account strategies. For more information, please visit www.arielinvestments.com.
About My Code
My Code is a modern media and marketing company built to help brands build lasting relationships with Hispanic, Black, AANHPI, and LGBTQIA+ consumers. Founded in 2015, My Code combines its first-party data, culturally nuanced insights, custom creative, community-centric media brands and unmatched distribution channels to deliver end-to-end multicultural marketing campaigns. Their diverse-first approach helps brands create and maintain relevance among America’s fastest growing and most influential communities. My Code is majority-owned by Ariel Alternatives, LLC’s Project Black. For more information, please visit www.mycodemedia.com.
Chief Communications Officer
Ariel Investments, LLC
*This designation is subject to approval by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).