Launch to Exit: The Oly Arts Success Story

|Founder of local multi-platform publication group successfully sells off publication unit to local entrepreneur >>
Coverage included:

The Olympian: Founder Sells to Local Marketing Leader
Sound Sound Business: Oly Arts Bought by Local Publisher

OLY ARTS, the three-year-old multiplatform publication focused on arts and cultural events in Thurston County and surrounding regions, announced today that the publication has signed an acquisition agreement with local media expert Billy Thomas, who currently serves as the publication’s associate publisher.

In an equity-only transaction valued at $350,000, Mr. Thomas will become the publication’s owner and primary publisher and will take over all daily operations for all OLY ARTS media properties in October 2018.

“I am honored to take the helm for such a wonderful team,” said Thomas. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for this publication as we expand into new media ventures.” Thomas has previously led public relations, marketing and sales for the Washington Center for the Performing Arts and facilitated community relations and advertising sales at both The Olympian and The News Tribune. Thomas has been part of the OLY ARTS staff since late 2017.

Ned Hayes, a technology entrepreneur and former journalist, founded the publication in 2015. “I am excited to transition our successful publication, growing audience and supportive advertisers to Billy Thomas,” said OLY
ARTS founder Hayes. “Billy has been a fantastic partner and manager for the publication over the last year, and I am excited to have his energetic leadership as OLY ARTS moves into the future.”

Olympia leaders and national publications have recognized the success of OLY ARTS over the past three years. The Seattle Times has worked with the OLY ARTS team on coverage of theater issues at Harlequin Productions in
Olympia. In September 2018, the Washington Post also contacted OLY ARTS for regional media assistance and worked closely with OLY ARTS founder Hayes to write a comprehensive travel guide article about Olympia
regional attractions.

“OLY ARTS has greatly enhanced the profile of our local arts and cultural assets, not only in Olympia but in the surrounding region as well.” said Olympia mayor Cheryl Selby. “I’m happy to see the publication continue to
grow with this new management team.”

Under Hayes’s tenure as owner and publisher of OLY ARTS, the publication launched online, mobile, and podcast media outlets, and created from scratch a regional audience of tens of thousands of readers for print and online versions of the publication. OLY ARTS also moved from a quarterly publication in its first year to a schedule of seven annual print editions. Hayes also created partnerships with the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation for lead sponsorship of the twice-annual Olympia Arts Walk, as well as partnerships with all local theaters, the City of Lacey’s summer In Tune program and the annual Oly Old Time Festival.

In recent months, Thomas has led the publication’s transition from a newsprint circular into a bound glossy premium print magazine distributed throughout Thurston, Lewis, Mason, and Pierce counties, and at every local
arts event and festival. He has continued OLY ARTS’ vision of community involvement by leading partnerships with local arts organizations such as Emerald City Music, Broadway Olympia and the Olympia Film Festival.
As the acquisition concludes, Hayes will transition into a new role as President of the parent company, Oly Works LLC, and will continue to be a shareholder and advisor to OLY ARTS. Hayes has stated that he plans to
continue to contribute writing and editing to OLY ARTS, now under Thomas’s editorial direction.

Contact OLY ARTS for more information:
Ned Hayes, publisher @ olyarts.com
Billy Thomas, manager @ olyarts.com
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