New Owner Takes Over Kaaboo

Kaaboo, which just announced a name change and new home downtown, has been sold

It’s been a busy week for Kaaboo: As we reported mere hours before the 2019 iteration of the annual three-day music and arts festival wrapped on Sept. 15, organizers announced an exit from the Del Mar Fairgrounds -- its home for the last five years -- for new digs at downtown's Petco Park under a multi-year agreement, along with a switch in branding from Kaaboo Del Mar to Kaaboo San Diego.

As it turns out, there’s more to the story: On Wednesday morning, Kaaboo co-founders Bryan Gordon and Seth Wolkov announced they had sold all of the festival brand assets to Virgin Fest (the music festival arm of Richard Branson’s multinational venture capital conglomerate Virgin Group Ltd), effectively placing it under new ownership. According to a press release, Kaaboo will not be rebranded and its "multi-sensory experience around live music, comedy, art and culinary will remain."

While no explanation has been offered for the sale (or its amount), the acquisition was overseen by Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts -- who also served as a partner and chief brand officer for Kaaboo Del Mar since 2016 -- and brokered/negotiated on behalf of Virgin Fest by Latham & Watkins LLP.

"I attended the first Kaaboo Del Mar in 2015 with my parents," Felts said. "Given it was Kaaboo's inaugural year, the attendance was low, however it became very clear to me that the vision was truly unique. It also became clear that Kaaboo shared a like-minded approach to Virgin with customer service, while delivering a unique, differentiated, multi-sensory festival product.

"That, of course, is a testament to the founders’ initial vision supported by an extremely talented team of professionals who executed upon that vision. It was on that basis that we first invested and supported this vision in 2016. We look forward to the future of the Kaaboo brand and its festival experiences under our ownership."

With the 2019 event marking Kaaboo's second straight sold-out year, all eyes will be fixed on Felts and how he leads the festival's evolution (set to take place Sept. 18-20) in its new downtown home.

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