Bob Sillerman, the colorful and controversial founder and CEO of EDM conglomerate SFX Entertainment,
saw his total compensation double to over $30 million in 2013. In the past few years, Sillerman has become notorious in the dance-music industry for buying up a string of once-independent rave promoters and affiliated service companies to form the second incarnation of SFX, a NASDAQ-traded company (SFXE) as of October 2013. Through acquisitions of the Amsterdam-based ID&T, New York’s Made Event, Chicago’s React Presents, Disco Donnie Presents, and Beatport (the pioneering digital music store for electronic music), SFX has taken the once-underground culture of raves to Wall Street.
Sillerman’s who is a serial entrepreneur in the music business took SFX Entertainment public last year priced at $13 October 2013. Since then the stock has tumbled nearly 55% to close at $4.41 last week, “Some of the growth was incorrect,” Sillerman concedes on a interview with VICE Magazine, alluding to but not naming some SFX purchases that may have been made in haste. “Live events are so energetic and incredible, but it’s an industry where people put on a festival once a year yet everybody listens to music year round. When we acquired Beatport the idea was to create a community three hundred sixty-five days a year. I was interested in protecting the fan experience and not doing what everybody thought I would do, which was corporatize it.”
The question of whether a format currently exists remains unanswered as of tat quote but it does suggest SFX is looking at the right issues. Although the company brought in increased earnings this year ($143.5 million according to the company and Dancing Astronaut), the company posted losses of $20 million more during the second quarter of 2014 than it did during 2013. Part of the net loss (despite record high revenues) is the rate of expansion that the company has undergone, including the operation of 17 festivals during 2014. Live events operated by the company contributed around 80 percent of the company and the other 20 percent came from Beatport, one of the most popular centers for downloads in the EDM scene.
Whether the many investors in SFX will see their stocks increase in value during 2015 will more likely depend on how much the new properties bring in (and how much the company opts to slow down its consumption).
A good restructuring for efficiency’s sake won’t hurt however. In recent months Sillerman’s colorful style has raised concerns with Wall Street particularly after an Instagram video clip went round of the 66-year old cancer survivor grabbing his crotch in a mock hip-hop style and making an obscene gesture at the camera. He was forced to explain his actions as an internal joke on an investor analyst conference.