Business can’t get done without a deal. And here are the dealmakers behind some of the most industry-shifting negotiations.
Adam Duritza, Yahoo
As Yahoo’s Head of Video and Distribution Partnerships, Duritza has been integral in brokering deals that include two-way syndication, into Yahoo and from Yahoo to its partners.
Biggest Deal: “I led Yahoo’s groundbreaking deal to bring consumers Hulu’s TV and movies for free, and brokered the first ever livestream of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders conference.”
Both deals underscore Adam’s role as a pioneer in digital video — cutting first ever deals to bring free, premium content to consumers while helping networks, studios and partner brands increase their user base and popularity.
Most important deal you’re watching: “AT&T / Time Warner, if it goes through, it will affect every aspect of media, entertainment and technology. I will be interested to see how others in the space respond to such an unprecedented combination of content and distribution.”
Dealmaker Pro-Tip: “A good dealmaker combines tenacity with flexibility. Tenacity is needed to fuel the long journey from deal open to close. It’s counterpart, flexibility, plays an equally important role in making sure that you can adapt the counterparty’s needs into your team’s goals.”
Arleta Fowler, CAA
Having grown her career inside of the CAA family since 2005, Fowler has been instrumental in bridging the relationships between brands and talent, whether digital or traditional including Liza Koshy, Adande Thorne (aka sWooZie), Melvin Gregg, and Timothy DeLaGhetto, among others.
Career highlight: “My biggest career highlight is putting Joseph Gordon-Levitt in business with Levi’s and Sony Electronics to power his digital platform, HitRecord. That deal was particularly special because it first piqued my interest in the digital business.” and a close second: “Witnessing my client Liza Koshy participate in her first ever global commercial for Beats by Dre in its “Got No Strings” campaign. Liza was the only talent from the digital sphere selected for the campaign, alongside such talent as Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Karlie Kloss, Pharrell Williams, and Michael Phelps. Liza was featured in the television commercial and received prominent placement next to Karli Kloss and Pharrell on the landing pages of the Beats websites in the U.S., The U.K., and China.”
A deal you watched from afar and found important: “Chiara Ferragni’s partnership with Louis Vuitton”
Most Important Quality for a Good Dealmaker: “Flexibility. There are times to be tough and hold the line. And then there are times to find common ground for the sake of the deal.”
Chad Gutstein, Machinima
Currently the of CEO at Machinima, a video entertainment network, Gutstein holds selling Machinima to Warner Bros. as his largest and most meaningful deal to date. The former COO of Ovation believes that Digital advertising becoming a duopoly between Google and Facebook; alongside the growing demand for mid-form, premium scripted & un-scripted content, is one of the most important trends hitting the industry today.
Dave Roter, Twitter
Over the last four years, Roter has been an important part of Twitter’s team driving the social platform’s agency partnerships and deals. He’s recognized as a deal innovator and creative dealmaker for advertisers and media companies.
Career Highlight: “While at ESPN, meeting with Twitter & white boarding what would become the product known today as Amplify. This is now one of the most important offerings for advertiser and publishers at Twitter. It was complicated but groundbreaking & quite fun.”
Most Game-Changing Deal You’ve Seen: “Magna Global shifting $250M in TV ad spend to YouTube felt like a massive win for digital when it happened.”
Doug DeLuca, JASH, Jimmy Kimmel
As an Executive Producer at Jimmy Kimmel and a business development maverick, DeLuca has been responsible for hundreds of millions in revenue from brand activations on Kimmel and its digital video business. DeLuca is also a co-founder of JASH, the comedy collective co-founded by comedians Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and comedy-industry veteran Daniel Kellison and digital vet Mickey Meyer. Ask around the industry and you’ll find those who know DeLuca’s dealmaking skills deeply admire his ability to generate creative, high dollar deals.
Career Highlight: “Selecting a set list with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the band KISS for a concert that Jimmy Kimmel Live aired from Detroit…Gene kept his tongue in his mouth, thankfully.”
Favorite Deals: “The biggest and most interesting deals I’ve made have been the annual music partnerships that we’ve done on Jimmy Kimmel Live. They include much more than music performance and give us the opportunity to be creative with great brands like Mercedes, AT&T, Samsung, GM — not to mention free concert tickets.”
Kelly Merryman, YouTube
YouTube has been making moves to compete with television. Recently, the company announced that it had brokered relationship with the major networks for what could shape up to be a game-changer for digital and television alike — the broadcast tv skinny bundle on YouTube. Behind those deals was Kelly Merryman, an executive the company scooped away from Netflix in 2014. At Netflix, Merryman led the charge building the SVOD’s content libraries for over 7 years.
Ivana Kirkbride, go90
Kirkbride is among the digital video OG’s and a darling of the industry as she now runs content strategy for Verizon’s go90. Over the course of her career, she’s led deals on behalf of digital companies, most notably for ,YouTube with creators, and later with Vessel, the now-defunct video startup founded by Hulu’s Jason Kilar and Richard Tom. During her time there, Kirkbride spearheaded a majority of the first window and partnership deals with YouTube’s top creators and publishers.
Career Highlight: “Actually, where I’m at right now. My role at Verizon is a culmination of all of my career experiences to date across investing, technology and entertainment. Now I get to impact entertainment strategy at a company with massive reach and direct-to-consumer relationships. We’ve been talking about the promise of the digital living room for over a decade. I’m now at a company that is making big moves and highly committed to deliver on that promise and more — the connected home, car, VR/360, IOT, telematics, and the next wave in media and entertainment.”
Favorite Deals: “ Like a movie or a good read, the best deals are the ones that have sequels and become epic anthologies 🙂 Along those lines, my Avengers (or LOTR!) would be our Series A raise at Generate. Through that process, we introduced Generate to my former employer ABS Capital Partners. A few years later they invested in a spin-out/roll-up of Alloy. As part of that, they acquired several assets including Generate and rebranded as Defy Media, whom have been landmark deals for me at YouTube, Vessel, and go90. But that’s what makes doing what we do in this space so thrilling. We are seeding a massive ecosystem that continues to grow exponentially.”
Max Polisar, AwesomenessTV
A veteran of the digital video business, Polisar has led a number of the industry’s most remarkable deals for YouTube creators, first at his role at Big Frame and now as AwesomenessTV’s Chief Revenue Officer.
Most Memorable Deal: “At Big Frame, I was the first to crack the Influencer “upfront” model with advertisers. In 2013, the most pioneering deal we executed was for Ingrid Nilsen. In those days, it was a challenge to convince a brand to spend real dollars with YouTuber’s at any level, let alone make one a key face of a major brand. I consulted and structured a deal with the CoverGirl team for Ingrid, to become a new type of brand ambassador for P&G. Ingrid loved the brand, but needed to remain editorially free for her growing audience. So, we developed the “Glambassador” title for her in conjunction with CoverGirl, which allowed Ingrid to act like a “CoverGirl” while being non-exclusive to the brand for editorial freedom. This was a first in three ways. 1) Ingrid became the first YouTuber to become such a high-profile face for a top brand. 2) It was the first time P&G allowed anyone to be non-exclusive for its marquee brand. 3) It was the largest deal by dollars done to date for a YouTuber. A couple months after executing Cover Girl, we structured a seven-figure deal with Unilever, for Ingrid to represent a suite of its haircare products, which were intentionally not in conflict with cosmetics. Again a first, in that a YouTuber was able to be the face of both a key product line by P&G and Unilever. This structure paved the way for many more upfront brand deals for Big Frame’s and subsequently Awesomeness’ creator roster. It’s also the same model that was applied to Ingrid’s most recent notable endorsement with bareMinerals.”
Dealmaker Pro-Tip: “Don’t be an a$$hole. The best dealmakers have strong emotional IQ and practice restraint to fairly negotiate. This simple method is a surefire way to establish more valuable relationships that offer desirable downstream opportunities.”
Petar Mandich, Addition
Once called “YouTube’s Gatekeeper” by LA Weekly, Mandich has represented some of YouTube’s biggest names including iJustine, Joey Graceffa and Dulce Candy. As a manager, he’s overseen the brand extension of their careers across multiple platforms and business sectors, including books, merch, television and digital.
Dealmaker Pro-Tip: “The most important mentality when making any deal or representing talent on their behalf is to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Being shortsighted and money hungry in the short-term will hurt your talent and your ability to manage your talent in the long-term.”
Career Highlight: “ My biggest career highlight has to be helping my clients — whose stories are all so moving and unique — publish three New York Times best-selling books. Facilitating their transition into a brand new medium of storytelling was one of the most professionally and personally fulfilling opportunities of my life.”
Most Important Deal: “One of the best deals I’ve made to date is for Joey Graceffa’s YouTube Red Series “Escape the Night.” It’s been amazing overseeing and producing something from inception to distribution and into cycle renewal. Empowering Joey to let his talent shine through in this project — his largest production to-date — is what makes me proud to call myself a Talent Manager.”
Sam Wick, UTA
Wick has spent the last 20 years in the startup and media businesses including MySpace and AOL and most recently at Maker Studios, where he served as EVP and GM of Enterprise. Now, he serves as Head of UTA Ventures, investing in, mentoring and buying technology startups.
Who’s Impacted Your Career: “Ynon Kreiz, Jeremy Zimmer, Courtney Holt and Mike Jones taught me business is both personal and long term. Your reputation is not built over one deal — but the length of your career. Respect your partners, co-workers and employees. They’ll likely be your biggest advocates downstream.”
Biggest Industry-Impacting Deal: “The emergence of skinny bundles and combined linear / digital bundles is game changing for the industry. It’s not one specific deal but the industry understanding consumers crave a different content experience and responding to it with new models and pricing.”
Dealmaker Pro-Tip: “The ability to walk a mile in your partners’ moccasins. Each party should feel good about the deal at close and completion.”
Tim Connolly, Hulu
As SVP, Head of Distribution and Partnerships for Hulu, Connolly has been responsible for spearheading deals with network and creative partners that drive subscriber and audience growth and retention for the subscription business. Partners Connolly has under his purview include Showtime, Yahoo, AOL, Apple and Google.
Most Meaningful Deal: “The Disney/ESPN and Comcast deal was the biggest dollars wise at more than twenty billions of dollars but it was also one of the more intensive as we lived in Philadelphia for about two months.”
Dealmaker Pro-Tip: “Be able to ask, and answer the question “Why.” You need to be able to explain why something is important to you … and ask why something is important to the other side … because only then can you hope to find something that works for both sides.”
Someone who’s influenced your career: “George Bodenheimer, ESPNs former CEO had a huge cultural impact on us at Disney/ESPN. His integrity, commitment to partnership and humility taught me great lessons.”
*Matt Lopez contributed to this story.