Will and Jada’s Media Company Loses More Than $70 Million

By: Lauren | Published: Jan 14, 2024

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been a team for more than 25 years. They each have wildly successful careers on their own, but in 2019, they decided to join forces to start their own entertainment business.

The multimedia company, Westbrook, was once a thriving enterprise, but it’s now in some serious trouble.

What Is Westbrook?

Westbrook is defined as a multimedia and entertainment venture company, but what does that really mean?

Audience at movie

Source: Canva

Essentially, the company organizes existing entertainment content, as well as creates new TV shows, talk shows, and films. The company says that they “empower artists to tell stories that connect the world.”


'The Future of Media'

Westbrook’s mission is to “spark shared moments of wonder, discovery, joy, and inspiration,” through its media. And they believe “the future of media is the Westbrook way.”

Transparent photo of the hosts of Red Table Talk with an inspirational phrase

Source: Westbrook Inc.

Of course, these are fairly big claims, but over the past few years, the company has done exceptionally well for itself and is often praised by critics and audiences alike for their interesting and diverse media collection.

The Success of Red Table Talk

One of Westbrook’s most popular and successful projects was “Red Table Talk,” a talk show that Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her daughter, Willow Smith, co-hosted.

Snoop Dogg is a guest on Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show Red Table Talk

Source: @RedTableTalk/Facebook

The show has had some incredibly famous guests, as well as a lot of celebrity drama that keeps the world tuning in.

Selling Westbrook for $1 Billion

So in 2021, after two years of success, Jada and Will decided that it may be the right time to sell Westbrook.

Explanation of Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine, alongside a picture of Witherspoon and friend

Source: CandleMedia.com

At that time, the giant media conglomerate Candle Media had just purchased Reese Witherspoon’s production business Hello Sunshine for a cool $1 billion, and the Smiths thought they could bargain a similar deal.

Candle Media Didn’t Think Westbrook Was Worth $1 Billion

It has been reported that during negotiations, Candle Media wasn’t willing to give the Smiths $1 billion for Westbrook.

Jada Pinkett and Will Smith at a red carpet event

Source: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage/Getty Images

In fact, they valued the company at only $600 million, which Jada and Will agreed was nowhere close enough to their asking price and therefore, decided to cancel the sale.


Everything Changed for Westbrook on March 27, 2022

But then, during the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, everything changed for the Smiths, and consequently, for Westbrook.

Will Smith famously slaps Chirs Rock across the face at the 2022 Academy Awards

Source: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

At the awards ceremony, comedian Chris Rock was on stage presenting the Best Documentary Feature award when he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s lack of hair. In response to the joke, Will Smith rushed the stage and slapped Rock across the face.


The Slap Had Serious Residual Effects

“The Slap” as it’s now famously called made headlines all over the country and the world. And while some people defended Will Smith for standing up for his wife, the vast majority of people felt that the sudden violence was uncalled for.

Jada Pinkett and Will Smith at a red carpet event

Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

And “The Slap” didn’t just affect Will Smith’s popularity, but his company, Westbrook, as well.


Westbrook Saw Substantially Decreasing Revenue in 2023

It’s important to note that while “The Slap” certainly did lead to issues with Westbrook’s existing and potential media partnerships, 2023 was an extremely challenging year for all entertainment businesses as the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes took a toll on potential revenue streams.

Members of the Hollywood actors SAG-AFTRA union walk a picket line with screenwriters outside of Paramount Studios

Source: David McNew/Getty Images

But no matter what the reason, Westbrook only reported $100 million in revenue in 2023, which forced the company to lay off about half of its 100-person staff and has made it significantly less valuable to potential buyers.


Co-Founder and CEO Kosaku Yada Has Also Been in a Bit of Trouble

The Smiths started Westbrook with their friend, Kosaku Yada, and he told the media that he believed Westbrook would bounce back from the “The Slap” and the 2023 slump in no time.

Kosaku Yada, CEO and co-founder of Westbrook

Source: @KosakuYada/X

However, Yada has made some interesting choices this year that have made other entertainment executives question his morality as well. The most talked about was that Yada gave himself a $2 million bonus last year, as well as a $10 million loan from the already struggling company (via Semafor).


Westbrook CFO Suddenly Left the Company

In addition, Westbrook CFO Kevin McDonald decided to leave the company last year, and reports say that he gave little to no notice before his departure.

Kevin McDonald, former CFO of Westbrook

Source: @kevintatummcdonald/LinkedIn

Between Yada’s financial choices, McDonald’s suspicious exit, Will and Jada’s public marital problems, and, of course, “The Slap,” many are wondering if Westbrook will bounce back from the mess they made in 2023.


What’s Next for Westbrook?

Realistically, the strikes and a lack of excessive revenue in Hollywood is absolutely negatively affecting Westbrook’s value.

Jada Pinkett and Will Smith with their three children

Source: Denise Truscello/WireImage/Getty Images

However, this story is a prime example of how celebrity-run businesses are so significantly affected by their public image. And many in the industry believe that if the Smiths can’t get back into the world’s good graces, Westbrook will soon be worth nothing at all.