Kobalt to expand into Latin America and South-East Asia

Kobalt is planning to open new offices in Brazil and South-East Asia this year, the company has told MBW – as it ramps up following a $60m investment round led by Google Ventures.

Kobalt currently employs over 275 people in nine offices around the world, including bases in London, New York and Los Angeles.

CEO Willard Ahdritz (pictured) told MBW that the rights management firm would be using the new $60m investment – which adds to $66m funding already raised – to “scale our organisation to the next level”.

This includes a doubling of the headcount of Kobalt’s 40-strong technology team, as well as a more traditional expansion: two new offices on either side of the globe.

Kobalt opened an initial Latin America base in Miami last year, bringing on board the ex-CEO for EMI’s publishing and recording divisions in Latin America, Nestor Casonu.

Its next expansion targets are a new office in Brazil, which Ahdritz says will open in the next six months, and a South-East Asia HQ, to open later in the year.

“This expansion is the beginning of part two of my original plan for Kobalt. You will see many announcements over the coming months which will help us to better serve rights holders on a global scale,” Ahdritz told MBW.

“Within six months from now, we will be increasing the number of people we are able to monetize for our clients from 400m to 1.5bn people worldwide. Ever since I started Kobalt in 2000, that level of scale is what I have seen as the future of the music industry and now we are achieving it.

“To do so you need to be efficient and transparent across the globe.”

Google Ventures’ fellow investors in the new $60m funding include MSD Capital, L.P., the private investment firm for Michael S. Dell and his family, which is a current Kobalt investor, and MSDC Management, L.P.

Kobalt, which operates in publishing, label services and neighbouring rights, says it has experienced revenue growth of 40% every year through the past decade.

It now serves over 8,000+ songwriters and over 500 publishing companies worldwide, with clients including Beck, Dr. Luke, Foo Fighters, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Max Martin, Paul McCartney, Pitbull, Ryan Tedder, Sam Smith, Skrillex, and others.

After closing the Kobalt investment, Bill Maris, Managing Partner at Google Ventures, said: “The music industry is going through dynamic changes all around the world and Kobalt will be instrumental in shaping its future positively for all constituents, starting with artists.”

Check out MBW next week for a more in-depth discussion with Ahdritz on why he feels Google Ventures is a good fit for Kobalt – and what the new investment means for his large-scale ambitions.Music Business Worldwide

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