Former WWE Presidents Seek $200 Million for Digital Media SPAC

Brendan Coffey
·2 min read

Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, who worked together at WWE for 11 years including two atop the organization, have filed for a special purpose acquisition company seeking $200 million to acquire a digital media and entertainment company.

The SPAC, Isos Acquisition Corp., filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission overnight to sell 20 million units at $10, each consisting of a share and one-third of a warrant for a share exercisable at $11.50. J.P. Morgan and LionTree are bookrunners, the investment banks that will bring the initial public offering to market.

Barrios and Wilson served as co-presidents and board members of the wrestling company from February 2018 until January of 2020, when they were forced out by Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. Berrios joined WWE in 2008 as chief strategy and financial officer and previously served as chief financial officer of The New York Times Company. Wilson worked in leadership at WWE beginning in 2009 as an executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Before that, she was CMO at the U.S. Tennis Association and held roles at the XFL, NBA, Nabisco and Johnson & Johnson earlier in her career.

The Isos prospectus emphasizes the success the pair had at WWE, including growth in the company’s share price of 426% from January 2015 through 2019 (WWE shares lost 25% of their value in 2020). “Together, Mr. Barrios and Ms. Wilson drove significant change at World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), shifting the business from a North America-centric, television broadcast media business to a global multi-platform brand,” the business plan says in part. The pair are co-CEOs of the SPAC.

Joining the duo in the blank-check business as directors are Derek Chang, former CEO of NBA China and a media executive; Barbara Daniel, senior vice president and head of corporate strategy at SiriusXM since 2015; and Jacqueline Hernandez, CEO of multicultural marketing firm New Majority Ready. Also on the board of directors are Perkins Miller, CEO of entertainment site Fandom and a former WWE, NFL and StubHub executive; Dan Reed, vice president of global sports at Facebook and former head of the NBA G League; and John Rose, a senior partner in media at Boston Consulting Group who led for the World Economic Forum (known for its Davos annual meeting) to identify opportunities in big data.

Should Isos complete its proposed IPO, the business would have 24 months to secure an acquisition or it would have to return shareholder capital, one of the guardrails regulators set around SPACs. Like Isos, most SPACs identify a target sector for their prospective business, but they can acquire any business they see fit, if approved by shareholders. There are more than 40 sports-related SPACs on the market or seeking to go public.

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