Firm That Brought You Holo-Tupac Dies Less Than A Year After IPOing, Taking Millions In Taxpayer Subsidies With It

Tyler Durden's picture

Most people know that during this year's Coachella festival, Tupac made a surprising appearance, if not in the flesh for obvious reasons, then in hologram form. What fewer people know is that the firm that created Holo-Tupac is special effects producer Digital Domain Media, which after years of failed attempts to do so, finally went public in November with Roth Capital as underwriter (there is now an Urban Dictionary definition for 'Rothed') at a price of $8.50 (well below the preliminary range of $10-12/share) and at a time when its burn rate was well above 50% of revenues, and which filed for bankruptcy hours ago. In other words, the company destroyed over $400 million in market cap in under 10 months. What is known by very few is that this is yet another public equity disaster of this administration: as filed in the bankruptcy Affidavit, "the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs and stimulate Florida’s economy. As of the Petition Date, the Company had contracted to receive a total of approximately $135 million in such government stimulus financing, including $19.9 million in tax credits. This financing consists of cash grants, land grants, low-interest financing, and tax incentives." In other words, in addition to the government's remarkable track record in the alternative energy field, public equity is now in the digital movie studio subsidization business. End result: bankruptcy, of a publicly funded company, shortly after IPO and sadly the realization that US capital markets are now so broken that the combination of private and public funding can sustain a company for less than one year.

This is the stock chart of DDMG from IPO until today's bitter end (as a bonus we have also shown the chart of FB stock on the right axis):

But that's not the end of it.

Proving that the complete lifecycle of US corporations is now absolutely corrupt, not just the "birthing" segment, but the terminal one as well, is the attempt by private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners to steal the only asset worth any money, in a carbon copy replica of what Barclays did with the Lehman Brother North America brokerage, which it stole for pennies on the dollar in the post bankruptcy scramble to find any buyer. As Reuters reports: "On Tuesday, Digital Domain said it had agreed to sell its production business -- the bulk of the company -- for $15 million to private equity fund Searchlight Capital Partners. A one-day auction is planned on September 21 to solicit competing bids, as required by the bankruptcy code.... Digital Domain said it needed to finalize the sale quickly, through the one-day auction, or Hollywood studios would cancel work from the firm. However, a bankruptcy attorney said a 10-day sale schedule was "incredibly short" and may make it difficult to find bidders as well as leave creditors little time to review the process. "The question here is whether the need for the sale to occur within 10 days is a legal emergency, created for the benefit of the purchaser," said Kenneth Rosen of Lowenstein Sandler."

Needless to say, the only reason for the stalking horse auction scramble is precisely "for the benefit of the purchaser", and is to prevent any other interested parties from performing real due diligence, and uncovering the true value of the "production business" that is being auctioned off: an asset which has had the benefit of tens of millions in taxpayer-funded sunk costs (which among other things built the film's Florida state of the art studio) and which incidentally happens to be the bulk of the company, only stripped of all the liabilities, which comrpised of at least $215 million in debt.

Who is Searchlight:

Searchlight, which manages about $860 million, was founded in 2010 by senior partners from investment management firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Apollo Global Management LLC.

It's senior investment team:

Oliver Haarmann



Prior to co-founding Searchlight, Oliver was a Partner at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.L.P. ("KKR"), based in London. He helped build out KKR’s European operations, oversaw the communications and media industry efforts and played a leading role in a number of successful investments. Before joining KKR, Oliver worked for various firms in the investment industry in the US and Europe. Oliver graduated from Brown University with a dual BA degree in History and International Relations, and completed his MBA at the Harvard Business School.


Erol E. Uzumeri



Prior to co-founding Searchlight, Erol led the global private equity business of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan ("OTPP"), where he oversaw a large investment portfolio and a team of investment professionals with offices in Toronto, London and New York. Erol oversaw, led or was involved with a number of OTPP's most significant direct investments in North America and Europe and led the establishment of several newly-formed private equity firms. Before joining OTPP, Erol worked at CVC International and Citigroup in London, New York and Toronto. Erol received a BASc in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto, an MSc in Finance from London Business School and is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors


Eric L. Zinterhofer



Prior to co-founding Searchlight, Eric was co-head of the media and telecommunications investment platform at Apollo Management, L.P. ("Apollo"). He was a leader in Apollo’s private equity/distressed debt-for-control effort and was involved in the initial hiring and building of its commodities investing platform. He played a key role at Apollo in initiating/leading investments in a range of cable, satellite, and wireless providers and operators in North America, Europe and India. Before joining Apollo, Eric held positions at Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan. Eric received a dual degree in Honors Economics and European History from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his MBA at Harvard Business School.

In other words, by acquiring the core of the firm in bankruptcy for a measly $15 million, the PE firm will acquire assets worth tens of times that amount (assets listed in the bankruptcy filing were $205 million), but more importantly the implicit benefit of extensive taxpayer funded "improvements" including (from the Affidavit below) not one, not two, but three stimulus packages in the course of 3 years:

Over the past two years, the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs and stimulate Florida’s economy. As of the Petition Date, the Company had contracted to receive a total of approximately $135 million in such government stimulus financing, including $19.9 million in tax credits. This financing consists of cash grants, land grants, low-interest financing, and tax incentives. All of these incentives have been structured over a three- to five-year period, with portions of these grants to be funded as the Company meets target thresholds of business initiation, capital expenditures, and/or job creation.


The first stimulus package, signed in June 2009, provides for $20 million in cash grants from the State of Florida.


The second stimulus package was awarded to the Company by the City of Port St. Lucie, Florida in December 2009 and January 2010, and provides for: (i) an additional $10 million in cash grants; (ii) 15 acres of land appraised at $10.5 million; and (iii) $39.9 million in low-interest building and equipment lease financing. The Company used these incentives to construct its headquarters and state-of-the-art animated features film studio, Tradition Studios, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.


The third stimulus package, signed in November 2010 with the City of West Palm Beach, Florida Community Redevelopment Agency (the "Agency"), provides for: (i) grants of $10 million in cash; (ii) title to 2.4 acres of land appraised at $9.8 million; and (iii) $15 million in low-interest construction financing. These grants were designed to incentivize the Company to build DDI’s educational campus at a site in the City of West Palm Beach. The cash  grant will be released as DDMG and DDI achieve various benchmarks, including commencement of construction, student enrollment targets, and other business progress targets. The deed on the granted property provides that it reverts to the Agency if certain conditions are not met or if construction of the site is not commenced by December 13, 2012. As of the Petition Date, the foregoing conditions have not been fulfilled, and  construction has not commenced nor has financing for such construction been identified.

All of the money above is now lost, despite hopes by the state it will get its money back:

"If the company is not able to meet its contractual obligations there are clawback provisions for the state to seek its money back," said Stuart Doyle, spokesman for Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that was involved in negotiating the incentives for Digital Domain but later recommended against providing support to the company.


"We're looking at the company saying 'OK you're not going to meet these job requirements so we need to start talking about a repayment plan,'" Doyle said. "We would go aggressively after our investment."

Good luck Mr. Doyle. By the time the 363 Auction is complete, any possibility for recoupment will be long gone, as will be your political career once your electorate realizes how you have burned tens of millions in tax funding in a dead end venture.

We will leave the open question of whether Roth Capital misrepresented the facts of the business in the IPO prospectus to other, more litigiously inclined readers. We are confident that with a bankruptcy 10 months following the IPO this question will get its answer soon.

Our advice to any readers with $15 million burning a hole in their back pocket: forget the lengthy diligence process, and engage in a bidding war with Searchlight on the 21st. Worst case scenario - the salvage value of the assets in a liquidation will be orders of magnitude above the purchase price. How can they not be: after all public capital was "prudently" invested into this venture.

Full affidavit from the bankruptcy docket (case is 12-12568 in Delaware Bankruptcy Court).

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Yen Cross's picture

"the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs ," and holographic piles of Fiat" to  stimulate Florida’s economy.


chump666's picture

Yo Yen well done on your AUD trade.


YuropeanImbecille's picture

Obama is investing $20B in an research company that claims they can clone Tupac so he can rap at the white house for Obama and Michelle.

They despice classical music and call it the "white devil music"

Pladizow's picture

The entire "market" is a hologram!

SGS's picture

Picture me rollin.  All Eyez on me by far the greatest Rap album to continue the great multicultural WASP mind polluting Rothstien imbedding melting pot.  Gotta love the ponzi.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Kurt Cocaine and The Mentor's "Il Duce" will jam on next years Coachella.  Sheeple are sheeple.

nope-1004's picture

"US capital markets are now so broken that the combination of private and public funding can sustain a company for less than one year"

That phrase sums up the economic illusion pretty good.


jeff montanye's picture

what is the point of electing racist bald republican fucks like rick scott ( if the state govt still just throws money at sad white dudes of uncertain christianity trying to ride the rap train?  is there no justice?

MisterMousePotato's picture

Man ... I read Ender's Game, I dunno? Twenty years ago? Thirty? A loooooong time ago. (And I think I even bought the book used then.) They're just getting around to making a movie about it now?

AldousHuxley's picture

Tupac went to Tamalpais high School in Mill Valley California....90% white + rich minorities...


"you know the things they have for mice....society is like that....they will let you go as far as you want, but as soon as you start asking too many questions, and you are ready to change...boom they will block you out."


source of power.....

"I tried to see if it was, like, a white thing. Everywhere I go with money, they let me in. Everywhere I go with none, they don't let you in. Trust me. That's all it is. It's all about money.

When you got money, you got power.

I guarantee if people keep supportin' me-just buyin' my record, just goin' to my concerts-I'ma keep givin' money. Every time I go platinum I'm puttin' money up for community centers. Every time I go platinum, somebody's gettin' a big check. I feel like an elected official.
You know what I thought when I was in jail, I was, like, No politician is even gettin' at us. I represent five million fuckin' sales. And no politician is even checkin' for us. But by the next election I promise I'll be sitting across from all the candidates. I promise you! I'ma be so far from where I am now in four years-God willin' I'm alive-it's on!

I guarantee we will have our own political party. It won't just be for blacks. It's gon' be for Mexicans, for Armenians, all you lost-tribe muthafuckas. We need to have our own political party 'cause we all have the same muthafuckin' problems. We built this nation and we get none of the benefits."


He proved himself right...he asked too many questions, wanted to be the change agent, and boom got himself killed in 1996.

12 years later, the elite-approved black candidate Obama becomes the president and bails out wall st.

chet's picture

Actually, state and local sources in Florida subsidized this company, not the administration.  This is pretty  sloppy Obama bashing even by Tyler's low standards.

chet's picture

Plenty of down votes, no actual rebuttals.  Typical.

Burnbright's picture

I didn't see the article bashing Obama so why bring Tyler into this?

jeff montanye's picture

admittedly obama is not really touched by this particular scandal.  however once you have said you can kill citizens on your own unappealable say so, have continued the odious bush practice of bailing out banksters, contrary to his own father's policies ( and realized your promise of the most transparent administration in history by torturing the queer (, you have poisoned your own wells beyond saving.  too bad.  so sad.  is the democratic party going the direction of the whigs?

and, because, for some, it will be hump day, an anticipation of the weekend:

Daily Bail's picture

Reminds me of the Curt Shilling video game disaster for the state of Rhode Island.  $75 million or so in that case.  I fucking hate this kind of shit.  We could cut all government (at all levels) by 50%, and there would still be too much money floating around and shit like this will still happen. That's what depresses me.

And while we're at it, couldn't we put a $25 trillion limit on the fucking national debt.

$25 Trillion Is Enough

If I were 25 again, I would move back to DC, start an anti-national debt lobbying group, staff it with interns from all over the country, and run a 24/7 lobbying-media shit storm straight up anybody's ass who didn't sign a Grover Norquist type pledge to cap the national debt at $20 trillion.

That's it.  $25 trillion and not one fucking penny more.

That gives us $9 trillion of new debt to work with, which means approx. 6 years to get to a balanced budget.

So somebody on this board needs to send their kid to DC to get this shit done.  And quick.  If your kid is a made for media badass and can bust out a national debt shit storm with relative ease, he or she will become a superstar.  Call it a perk.

Fuck you, you soul-stealing, generational-pillaging troglodyte congressional motherfuckers.


James's picture

Fuck you, you soul-stealing, generational-pillaging troglodyte congressional motherfuckers.



Daily Bell,Personally I'm at a loss for words anymore.

Okay if I use yours?

Schmuck Raker's picture

I agree with so much you're sayin'

that I wanna puke when you implore someone, Anyone, to send "Their Kid" to go do what you think they should do, but obviously won't do for yourself. Maybe I'm a bit sauced tonight, ok...a lot sauced ....but your MO is how we got here!

"SOMEBODY ELSE'S KID SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS" Fuck that - Fuck you - Fuck me - Fuck it all - BUT stop fucking everybody's kids for a start.

"Fuck you, you soul-stealing, generational-pillaging troglodyte congressional motherfuckers."

Now take out the word "congressional".

"I would move back to DC..."

So it it was perfectly fine when you left?




[But don't worry, I do it too.]

Daily Bail's picture

I was being tongue in cheek which I think everyone got but you.  I don't have kids yet.  And I'm too old (40) to run a youth-driven anti-national debt lobbying media shit storm.  For the media to take it seriously, a movement like '$25 Trillion Is Enough' would have to be run by young people.  They are the ones getting raped by our deficits and accumulated national debt. 

Schmuck Raker's picture

I have little doubt I may have missed any tongue-in-cheek but the question remains: why is it incumbent of the "youth" to accomplish what you and I (also 40) have failed to accomplish? Again I say THIS IS HOW WE GOT HERE, "THE YOUTH ARE OUR FUTURE". Well, that obviously didn't work for our parents......or! See where this leads? Do you see HOW we got here?


"...a movement like '$25 Trillion Is Enough' would have to be run by young people." WHY??!!!

It's YOUR idea but.......SOMEONE ELSE's work?


How seriously did the media (MSM to some) take the "misinformed, spoiled, lazy youth" at OWS? Did the media pay a bit more attention when a grizzled old-timer stood up in solidarity? Maybe your too busy tonguing your cheek to realize the essential truth that you ARE the problem, and if you aren't then you are at minimum more expendable- 40, no kids, run a blog - than the kids ("somebody's") that are looking for non-existent jobs and enjoying over-priced education that are OUR legacy to them.


"They are the ones getting raped by our deficits and accumulated national debt." THAT"S FUCKIN' RIGHT! Don't you think they already have their work cut out for them? I suspect you do. So be honest with yourself - no reply needed here - don't YOU (AND I) have plenty of work to do as well?.......


Thanks for the reply "We watch CNBC so you don't have to", I respect that.

I'll go pass out now......

CompassionateFascist's picture

A daily bail: 25 trill? No it doesn't. There's 5-6 trillion of addit off-the-books debt "hidden" at the fed mortagage agencies. Time's about run out. When the 1st Israeli jet rises off the runway and heads for Iran.....  

Ineverslice's picture


Silly stockholders....

  Hey wait a minute, my 401 just got Rothed!

Colonel Klink's picture

Scratching my head at the names on the senior investment team.  Seems like there's a common thread.  More of the Fraud street type.  Maybe jou guys can figure it out for me.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

Oh, I'm sure they will do fine, it's the suckers in between. Don't jou think?

earleflorida's picture

The perfect fit for a glitter starved Maccu & Island Casinos,  that Asian's high-rollers just can't get enough of... anyone up for a $10*eskimo roll at "Sand's Backgammon"... anyone? Now, courtesy of the us?sheeple, Sheldon Adelson, via KKR - will holograph the dice with live `Dragon fire'd' lite' for your yuan`ing O2 pleasure?

thankyou tyler 

ShrNfr's picture

Rhode Island fell for that with a games company.

James's picture

Fuck you, you soul-stealing, generational-pillaging troglodyte congressional motherfuckers.


Hedgetard55's picture

Next up, Holo Biggie, then Holo Ben Berspanky.

Meesohaawnee's picture

Holo Becky and Warren in Holo Bathtub with holo duckies

Tippoo Sultan's picture

You do not need a hologram to recreate that episode -- merely an iPhone 4S on video mode.

konputa's picture

Capitalism is alive a well in my home state. *cough cough*

ultimate warrior's picture

The government killed 2Pac again. Damn it!

nmewn's picture

Bring him back!!!

Encore!!! Encore!!!

ShrNfr's picture

The Terminator terminated him. He won't be back.

AldousHuxley's picture


"I'm puttin' the "k" 'cause I'm killin' that Illuminati shit. Trust me. If these mothafuckas wanted to kill you, why the fuck are they gonna tell Farrakhan? Why are they gonna tell the Nation of Islam? Why are they gonna tell this nigga in jail about the plan? How does he know? How did it leak to him? Who told him? The Police?????"


Tupac may be dead, but essence of his ideas won't die. ......"When you got money you got power"


JayZ took it to the next level by not sharing profits with Joos in showbiz. Now he sits in interviews with Forbes and Buffett because his networth is HALF A BILLION!


Schmuck Raker's picture

"In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women." - T Montana 1982


AH, get off your Jew-bashin' merry-go-round. You sound like a moron.

If asians had conquered america instead of a bunch of anglos you'd be whining about Koreans, and similarly disoriented

AldousHuxley's picture

why don't you just call me an anti-semite like a good zionist?


NathanYahoo keeps wanting to put American youngsters to be killed in Iran using American tax payers funding the war.

Time for American Joos to decide whether they are pro-USA or pro-Israel.





Schmuck Raker's picture

You really are losing it.

I like reggae as much as the next guy, but aside from that, I don't know too much about Zion.

ShrNfr's picture

The Terminator terminated him. He won't be back.

James's picture

Fuck you, you soul-stealing, generational-pillaging troglodyte congressional motherfuckers.

chump666's picture


ah sh*t metaphor for the global economy, a f*cking hologram of the dead.  which died in 2008.


Redhotfill's picture

Sooo when will the creditor's object and sue the Trustee?!

PaperBear's picture

Who is keeping score of the bankruptcies that take huge amounts of taxpayer funds with them ?

Zero Govt's picture

Barney Frank is trying to forget Fannie and Freddie, and Mr President is trying to forget Solyndra and Carbon Credits imploding to worthless in Chicago

nobody is trying to count, everyone's trying to forget

ShrNfr's picture

The seem to have done a pretty good job over Obama's 2008 campaign promises, I will say that for them.

James's picture

Pelosis' brother-in-law was just awarded a govt. contract to start a ............................................SOLAR CO.

AldousHuxley's picture

energy industry = all government


someone said if you want to make it big in energy, go join department of energy.

nmewn's picture

Capital vultures...holograms...fake money and a fake business model...why, this thing had it

Now you see it, now you don't ;-)