By Peter Csathy
Virtually every week — everywhere you look — investors are pouring boatloads of money into content-focused digital media and tech companies.
The latest examples? Otter Media’s acquisition of leading multi-channel network (MCN) Fullscreen for a deal reported to value the company up to $300 million — and Corus Entertainment’s lead position in a new $12 million investment in women’s-focused MCN Kin Community.
For content-first digital media companies, 2014 is as easy (and rightfully so!) as 1–2–3: (1) Disney’s earlier acquisition of MCN Maker Studios for up to nearly $1 billion; (2) Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality Oculus Rift; and (3) Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats and Beats Music.
And, let’s not forget all of the other hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital and strategic investment into the MCN space alone (here is my overall “cheat sheet” that summarizes all of these deals).
I was speaking with my wife, Luisa, about all of this as I drove from one meeting with a digital pioneer in this brave new media world (Kin Community’s founder/CEO Michael Wayne) to another (Pluto.tv’s CEO Tom Ryan). I expressed my excitement about what I absolutely believe is a seminal and transformational moment-in-time for the media business. I marveled at the sheer entrepreneurial energy and innovation that Los Angeles and SoCal in general is exuding right now. For me, someone who has been immersed in the media/tech space for 25 years, these are uniquely exciting times.
You see, I like to get down in the streets — down in the trenches with those entrepreneurs and where that innovation is happening. I like to visit them in their company offices. To “feel” how they feel. To see their teams in action. And, after scores of meetings, I am absolutely convinced that we will look back at this year — 2014 — as being the point where the long-anticipated promise of the “convergence” of media and tech became a mainstream reality. Where NorCal investment finally met SoCal content-driven opportunities. When content finally was understood to be king again — precisely because of new technology that enables the creation of new experiences, new ways to distribute those experiences, and new ways to engage with and in those experiences.
This is a new golden age of content. Plain and simple. It is not content divorced from tech. Not at all. It is content fueled by it. It is creativity on a mass scale that involves both the left brain and right brain.
And its epicenter is LA.
As I continued speaking with my wife on my five-mile (should have been 10 minute but instead was 30 minute) drive, we ruminated about our own kids living in these times. About how much fun they would have as young people raised in this digital world — and able to participate in it as more than consumers. As entrepreneurs themselves, if they so wish. For now, they are a bit young (15 and 12, respectively).
But, for other media and tech-hungry millennials, now is a time to harness your passions and fully immerse yourselves in this fully immersive Oculus world. Hundreds (thousands?) of entrepreneurial opportunities and jobs are being birthed amidst all of this investment. They are there for you here and now. Fullscreen, Maker Studios, StyleHaul, DanceOn, MiTu Networks, Kin Community, Tastemade, Collective Digital Studio, Jukin Media, Vice Media, Woven Digital, Pluto.tv, Zefr, NeonGrid, Otter Media, The Chernin Group, AwesomenessTV, Everdream, Eversport, Fanbread, Ninja Metrics, VideoInk, Media Hound, Atom Factory — and, yes, Manatt Digital Media. These are just some of the places where innovation is happening. In beautiful open spaced offices — where the possibilities themselves are wide open.
Yes, Silicon Valley remains a hotbed of innovation and opportunity. But, Silicon Beach is now where entrepreneurial energy and innovation has reached a fever-pitch.
Go West young talented and passionate digital media/tech entrepreneur! Southwest, that is…
Check out more of Peter Csathy’s thoughts on the digital media space at the Digital Media Update.