Richard Rosenblatt of Demand Media, Dan Rosensweig of Guitar Hero and Peter Guber of Mandalay Entertainment discuss the current state and future of distribution in their varying fields.
John Battelle is an entrepreneur, journalist, professor, and author. Currently founder and chairman of Federated Media Publishing, he is also a founder and executive producer of conferences in the media, technology, communications, and entertainment industries as well as "band manager" with BoingBoing.net.
Previously, Battelle was founder, chairman, and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), publisher of The Industry Standard and TheStandard.com. Prior to founding The Standard, Battelle was a co-founding editor of Wired magazine and Wired Ventures.
He is the author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (Portfolio, 2005).
Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, the visionary multimedia venture spanning movies, TV, sports, and new media, Peter Guber is among the most successful executives in the entertainment and communications industries.
Films he personally produced or executive produced, including Rain Man, Batman, The Color Purple, Midnight Express, Gorillas In The Mist, The Witches of Eastwick, Missing, and Flashdance, have earned more than three billion dollars worldwide and garnered more than fifty Academy Award nominations.
Peter Guber is a sought after speaker at global events. Tapped for his wisdom and expertise, he currently appears as an analyst on numerous network and cable shows and has been a co-host for the last six years on AMC's TV show, Shootout. Guber is a noted author and in December 2007 wrote the cover article for the Harvard Business Review titled, "The Four Truths of the Storyteller." He has since authored op-ed pieces for the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
He is currently writing a business book to be published by Crown Publishing Group in the Fall of 2010. Guber is a full professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and has been a member of the faculty for over 30 years.
Richard Rosenblatt has a unique vision for the future of the Internet. A serial entrepreneur, Rosenblatt's latest venture is Demand MediaTM, a company he co-founded in May 2006 and serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Demand Media has developed a unique platform that leverages cutting edge, user-driven publishing, community, and monetization tools as it seeks to define the next generation of new media companies.
Rosenblatt has built, operated, and sold over $1.3 billion of Internet media companies. Most recently, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Intermix Media, Inc. (Amex: MIX) and Chairman of Myspace.com. Joining Intermix in March 2004, he led a successful turn-around of its existing business, helped the management team grow Myspace.com from an unknown web site to one of the most popular properties on the Internet, developed a number of new Internet media properties, and significantly increased shareholder value. During his eighteen months as CEO of Intermix, its public market capitalization grew from $70 million to over $650 million, when it was acquired by News Corporation (NYSE: NWS) in October, 2005.
In 1999, he sold iMALL (NASDAQ: iMAL), a company he founded in 1994 and served as Chairman and CEO, to Excite@Home (NASDAQ: ATHM) for $565 million. iMALL's success was due to an early recognition of the power of user generated content (UGC). iMALL offered users a suite of tools which enabled them to build their own eCommerce stores and transact commerce over the Internet. In addition to these two public Internet companies, Richard has been actively involved in a number of private internet companies. He also serves as non-executive chairman of iCrossing, a leading digital and natural search firm.
Rosenblatt is a Southern California native, with a B.A. from UCLA and J.D. from USC Law school (class of 1994). He is married with three children and active in the community.
Dan Rosensweig currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Guitar Hero, the business unit which develops the blockbuster Guitar Hero franchise. In this role, Mr. Rosensweig oversees Guitar Hero's global operations including game development, hardware manufacturing, supply chain, logistics and marketing.
Mr. Rosensweig brings significant experience to Activision having served as Chief Operating Officer of Yahoo! from 2002 through 2006, where he oversaw the company's worldwide operations including its product development, marketing, and advertising sales and the development and introduction of inventive new Internet advertising formats.
Prior to Yahoo!, Mr. Rosensweig spent 18 years at Ziff Davis, most recently serving as President where he was responsible for the global operations of the company and the successful merger of ZDNet and CNET. He held several senior positions during his tenure at Ziff-Davis, including President and Chief Executive Officer of ZDNet, which he built from a standalone Ziff-Davis company to a publicly traded, highly trafficked Internet network, President of Ziff-Davis Internet Publishing Group and Vice-President and Publisher of PC Magazine.
Before joining Activision, from 2007 to 2009, Mr. Rosensweig served as an operating principal at Quadrangle Group, a private investment firm, where he focused on the firm's media and communications private equity business.
Mr. Rosensweig received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Hobart College, Geneva, New York. He is the former Co-Chairman of ONE.org and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Adobe Systems, Inc & Katalyst Media. He is also a member of the Executives in Residence program at Columbia University.
Guitar Hero CEO Dan Rosensweig foresees a scenario where gamers not only play songs, but also contribute to the game. He says the introduction of an in-game ecosystem that rewards gamers for uploading user-generated content is "inevitable."
Film producer Peter Guber delves into the fickle nature of movie financing by comparing the budgets of James Cameron's blockbuster "Avatar" and the shoestring horror flick "Paranormal Activity." Guber jokes that occasionally "Ferraris sell for the same price as Volkswagens" in Hollywood.
The release model used for motion pictures has not always been as equal as seen today and mentioned in the talk.
In the forties and fifties, people did actually say, the latest MGM musical is playing at the Metro theatre. However, the studio names were generally seen as an assurance of good entertainment.
The problem for today's movies is that the cinema owners have no sense of event. Showmanship in presentation of a movie has been displaced by providing multiple screenings of poorly equipped or improperly maintained cinemas with automated equipment. Fast food movies, as compared with paying respect to the audience/screen relationship, let alone treating it as an art form in itself.
This relationship is almost totally ignored and the audience is always left wanting. Face it, 3D needs years of development before it will provide anything other than cheap thrills.
Today, a properly and quite modestly priced home theatre system, can provide a better experience than those found in many commercial cinemas. It doesn't have to be like that, but it is.
Unfortunately no one is telling the young film makers that the effect of the captured image, is dependant on the audiences' experience in the viewing and presentation of the movie.
The same is true for many of the performing arts environments where the power of presentation is underestimated, or dismissed as unnecessary. (Rock concerts excepted.)
Providing the audience with a human, personal interaction will always attract an audience, provided the presentation is in someway unique.
Of course no amount of excellence in presentation, can save a bad movie, but it can make it bearable and at times even profitable.