Playboy leaving the Hills for Westwood

Hugh Hefner's company is struggling to rebrand itself in the digital age

109560 Wilshire Boulevard (Credit: Pixabay)
109560 Wilshire Boulevard (Credit: Pixabay)

After the death of founder Hugh Hefner, Playboy is pulling up stakes from Beverly Hills, amid a shakeup in its business model that could see the end of its print magazine.

Playboy Enterprises, the publisher of Playboy magazine, has agreed to a roughly 40,000-square-foot sublease at Douglas Emmett Inc.’s 10960 Wilshire Boulevard, according to CoStar. The company’s new offices are about three miles away from its current Beverly Hills offices at Rockefeller Group’s 9346 Civic Center Drive.

The move could inject fresh energy into the house that Hefner built. Playboy has struggled to remain relevant in the digital age and to maintain an identity following the founder’s death in October.

Michigan-based private equity firm Rizvi Traverse took control of the company following Hefner’s death and quickly began an effort to shift its focus from media to branding to capitalize on its famous name. But recent licensing deals in the video gaming industry and with rapper Pitbull to brand suits haven’t done well, according to Forbes.

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In January, rumors circulated that Playboy would stop publishing the iconic print edition of its men’s lifestyle magazine. Rizvi managing partner Ben Kohn said in January that the company planned “to spend 2018 transitioning [Playboy] from a media business to a brand-management company,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even the fate of the infamous Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills was up in the air until recently. Twinkies heir Daren Metropoulos purchased the 20,000-square-foot home in 2016 for $100 million with plans to combine it with a neighboring property. Hef had a deal to remain at the property until his death.

Metropoulos said he wouldn’t demolish it, but just to be sure City Councilman Paul Koretz tried to landmark the property. They struck a deal in March in which Metropoulos agreed not to demolish it.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the buyer of the Playboy Mansion.