How much successful companies which occupy almost all of its niche do you know? They do not just follow fashion to diversification but they know their strength. A good new example of this is IDW Holding.

This Saturday Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has arrived on BBC America. It was possible with IDW Media Holdings, the publicly traded comic and game publisher. The work is based on comics from Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency novels with help of screenwriter Max Landis and the producers of The Walking Dead. Previous serial Wynonna Earp was prolonged to the second season.

“What makes us unique is we’re the only public multimedia entertainment company outside of the behemoths, like the Warner Bros. and Disneys of the world,” says IDW CEO Ted Adams (no relation to Douglas). “Each of our divisions—publishing, board games, entertainment—feed each other’s success. There’s no microcap or midcap companies that are doing what we’re doing.”


From the start to nowadays

 IDW Media Holdings. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency  IDW Media Holdings. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

 IDW Media Holdings. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

 IDW Media Holdings. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

 IDW Media Holdings. IDW Media Holdings. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Idea and Design Works was founded by Ted Adams (now CEO), Robbie Robbins (EVP and senior graphic artist of IDW Publishing), writer Kris Oprisko and illustrator Alex Garner in 1999 to develop gaming and publishing spin-offs. In 2007, New Jersey telecommunications firm IDT Corporation bought shares of IDW, then it became CTM Media Holdings—this year renamed IDW Media Holdings. Now the business has 62 permanent employees and about 300 freelancers. This includes printed and electronic versions of books spread over shopping centers like Walmart and Target.

Adams is not only CEO of IDW Media Holdings, operational CEO of its subsidiaries. They are  IDW Publishing, which produces comics and graphic novels, and reprints classic American comics, Library of American ComicsIDW Entertainment, which finances the development and production of TV shows; Top Shelf Productions, the Atlanta boutique publisher, IDW GamesIDW LimitedCTM Media Group, a travel brochure distributor to 14,000 hotels, Ettractions, a digital listing of travel destinations, and the San Diego Comic Art Gallery.

“We go way above and beyond on the royalty reporting and profit and loss statements. We’re constantly analyzing what works within each division, each brand, product category from a financial standpoint,” – said Adams.


Straight to TV


In contrast to the general trend of the business to accelerate, IDW expands and diversifies gradually to the company remained stable. IDW launched its entertainment division in 2013. Then they received support from David Ozer and Circle of Confusion. Continuing success followed by TV projects as Wormwood,  dramas Locke & Key, Pantheon and Winterworld. 

“We’ve been in business for 17 years and it’s been slow, steady growth,” says Adams. “We try not to bite off more than we can chew, bring in smart people to run our businesses, and have a diverse product mix. I’m a conservative person by nature and don’t take a lot of big, uncalculated risks. I’ve spent my entire life consuming books, so I understand plot, character development, good writing, and good art.”

The benefit of the company is direct communication with the writers as well as a large library, which allows to vary content. They develop themselves, prescribe the scripts and editions and only they determine what will be on sale. However, they do not trust production exclusively one company. Scripts were distributed among Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Sony, Warner Bros. and others. In addition, its own channel, the existence of which is fully justified with growing audience


In right time

Success of TV products leads the new ideas for comics and games, maybe even apps.“We want to have all these pieces of IP go through every division,” says Adams. “We know what we need to do to grow. The challenge is the entertainment division, because so much of it is outside of our control. The linchpin is finding a network to get a show going.”

Even with raising $4 million from shareholders for its entertainment division and market cap hovering around $220 million Adams can’t say ideal algorithm of running business. “You couldn’t start up a publishing division, then a gaming division six months later, then an entertainment division right after, unless you have a giant amount of cash or someone comes in with $50 million, $100 million. There’s no get-rich-quick scheme in the world of comic books.”

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