Scooter Braun Becomes Sole CEO of HYBE America, Home to BTS
Scooter Braun has become the sole CEO of HYBE America, Variety confirmed. He previously shared the title of co-CEO with Lenzo Yoon, a veteran of Big Hit (the former corporate name of HYBE) who joined the South Korean company – home to K-pop sensations BTS – in 2010 as a as responsible for strategic planning. At HYBE, Yoon was tasked with “localizing the K-pop business model in the American music industry,” according to a 2021 announcement.
Braun’s Ithaca Holdings merged with HYBE in April 2021, giving the company a 100% stake in Ithaca and its properties, which includes SB Projects and management clients Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, among others, as well as Big Machine Label Group. With the merger, Braun joined HYBE’s board of directors and retained the title of CEO for its US operations. Bang Si-Hyuk, who founded Big Hit in 2005, stepped down as CEO in July 2021 and remains chairman.
This gave a seemingly bigger role to Yoon, who was instrumental in building BTS’s fan base. Yoon (full name Yoon Seok Joon) became global CEO in May 2020, before the company launched its IPO in Seoul. He then became CEO of HYBE America in July 2021. The role in the United States earned him a spot (alongside Bang and Braun) on Billboard’s 2022 Global Power list. HYBE did not indicate what Yoon’s future role might be. And he did not respond to Variety’s inquiries.
The billion-dollar Ithaca-HYBE deal resulted in big paydays for Braun employees and customers, including SB Projects president Allison Kaye, Grande, Bieber and J Balvin. A pledge of $50 million of Braun personal stock has been pledged to deeds and employees who have been with Braun since he started SBP in 2007. Bieber and Grande received 53,557 each – or about 10 million dollars each – while Balvin received 21,423 shares. Demi Lovato was awarded 5,355. Smaller slices of the pie were split between other artists on the label’s roster, such as Carly Rae Jepsen and Asher Roth, as well as producer Andrew Watt, rapper Migos Quavo , producer Tommy Brown and songwriter Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd, among others. . Kaye, meanwhile, received 26,778 shares, good for $5 million.
Elsewhere in the Braun empire, Bieber has just sold his music rights to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital for more than $200 million in a deal that includes Bieber’s shares in his publishing catalog and of recorded music, Bieber’s interest in his copyrights (including the copyrights of the writer’s performance share), master recordings and neighboring rights for his entire back catalog, composed of more than 290 titles released before December 31, 2021.
Although BTS is HYBE’s main customer, the company and its subsidiaries are also home to popular K-pop groups Tomorrow x Together, Enhypen, Seventeen and many more. HYBE also recently launched a K-pop girl group in May 2022, Le Sserafim, in partnership with Source Music. With the October release of their second EP, “Antifragile,” the group became the fastest female K-pop act to debut on the Billboard 200.
HYBE has increased revenue growth in 2022, earning over $1 billion, which puts it in the league of mini-majors. So far this year, its stock is up 10%, but down 31% from its performance last year. As of January, HYBE had a market capitalization of $6.25 billion, though that’s down from a peak of $12.1 billion at the end of 2021.
When BTS announced their “break” in June 2022, HYBE stock fell 28%, equivalent to a $1.7 billion drop in market value. However, HYBE quickly released a statement backtracking on the word “hiatus,” claiming that the word was mistranslated in the group’s Korean announcement. “BTS is not taking a break. The members will be focusing more on solo projects at this time,” the statement read.
This turned out to be true, as members RM and J-Hope have both released solo projects since the announcement. The group is also required to perform military service and will therefore be temporarily inactive but “looks forward to reuniting as a group around 2025 following its service commitment,” record label Big Hit Music said in a statement.