Author Mo Willems, Stampede Ventures And RedBird Capital Unite In New Content Company, Hidden Pigeon

Author Mo Willems, Stampede Ventures, and RedBird Capital Partners have formed Hidden Pigeon Company, a multiplatform kids and family content venture that will leverage Willems’ best-selling catalogue of children’s books and intellectual property across all entertainment platforms.

Willems is a an award-winning author and illustrator. His work includes the Elephant and Piggie book series, as well as The Pigeon, star of his own book series, including the recently-published The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! (September 2022). Willems has been awarded three Caldecott Honors for his books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.

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He was the inaugural Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence (2019-2022) and continues to collaborate in classical music, opera, comedy concerts, dance, and digital works with the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Ben Folds, Renée Fleming, and others.

He began his career as a writer and animator on PBS’ Sesame Street, garnering six Emmy Awards. His papers reside in the collection of Yale University’s Beinecke Library.

“The Hidden Pigeon Company takes its name from how kids and former kids delight in finding The Pigeon hidden in every one of my books,” said Willems. “It is my hope to create a similar bit of surprise and delight in the fabric of everything we make or do.  I am thrilled to have found wonderful collaborative partners to make that hope a reality.”

The creation of HPC follows Stampede Ventures and Mo Willems’ existing producing partnership, which has already earned two specials that premiered on HBO Max, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience and Storytime All Stars Presents: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime (2020), which was nominated for two daytime Emmys. 

HPC will be led by Kathy Franklin as CEO. Franklin joins HPC from Lightstorm Entertainment, where she served as President, Franchise Development for nearly 12 years.

In addition, HPC will also house a new publishing imprint called Specific House, which has partnered with publisher Union Square & Co. to launch Willems’ new adult humor book, Be the Bus – The Lost & Profound Wisdom of The Pigeon, as well as The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! and the upcoming Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh!, which will be The Pigeon’s first holiday book.

Willems is repped by literary agent Marcia Wernick at Wernick & Pratt Agency, LLC, who will continue to represent his domestic literary rights.

“We’ve deeply enjoyed the success of our partnership with Mo and Cher Willems to date, and it’s shown us that the popularity of his IP and the appetite for premium family entertainment are a powerful combination,” said Greg Silverman, Stampede Ventures’ CEO and Founder.     

“The launch of Hidden Pigeon Company with RedBird is our opportunity to bring the full range of Mo’s creative genius into one entity crafted to expand the impact of his work. RedBird’s extensive experience will be critical in HPC’s long-term success, and we are thrilled to have their support and partnership,” said Chris Bosco, Stampede Ventures’ President.     

Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital Founder and Managing Partner, said, “Working with creative entrepreneurs like Mo is at the core of our investing strategy.  The creation of HPC is consistent with RedBird’s broader media investment thesis of acquiring best-in-class IP and scaling its scope of impact and commercialization. Our goal is to help this new company and partnership transform the traditional kids and family entertainment landscape and the way audiences experience Mo’s stories.” 

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