Rolling Stone Magazine Partners With Asian Billionaire’s Son

Kuok Meng Ru's BandLab Technologies has acquired a 49% stake.

Yoolim Lee, Bloomberg’s Southeast Asia technology news correspondent, is based in Singapore. And it is from that pristine city today that she has dropped some major American media news.

She leads with a clever Beatles-Joe Cocker song reference and then shares the details of the deal:

The founder of Rolling Stone is selling 49 percent of the iconic magazine to an Asian billionaire’s son. It’s the first time Jann Wenner has admitted an outside investor, a deal that encapsulates the plight of an industry fighting to stay relevant in an online age. Wenner Media LLC also owns Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. …

BandLab will have no involvement in the editorial side of the magazine. Rather, it will oversee a new Rolling Stone International subsidiary, which will develop live events, merchandising and hospitality.

Bandlab Technologies was founded and is run by Kuok Meng Ru, the third son of Singapore agribusiness titan Kuok Khoon Hong. Intriguingly, Ru says he had been in discussions with Rolling Stone for more than a year.

For the piece, Lim also spoke with Gus Wenner. She has a separate profile of Ru, with more details about how the deal came together. Her scene-setting for this article is musical as well, tying in a separate 1960s musical icon:

The sale of a big chunk of Rolling Stone magazine began with a casual meeting between a scion of one of Asia’s richest families and the son of magazine impresario Jann Wenner, during a sweltering New York summer.

A mutual friend had suggested Kuok Meng Ru, blues aficionado and son of palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, meet Gus Wenner, the 26-year-old heir apparent to a business built around his father’s iconic pop magazine. They hit it off. Close in age, they discovered a shared love of the guitar and Bob Dylan. Each had played in bands as teenagers. And both were trying to launch digital businesses of their own, independent of their well-known fathers.

Vol. 1, No. 1 cover image via: Rolling Stone

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.