In Digital Media News Today.....
Agility Studios launch
A group of digital and traditional media veterans announce the formation of Agility Studios, financed by Denver-based private equity firm Mantucket Capital. Founders Scott Ehrlich, former VP of RealNetworks; Larry Tanz, former CEO of Live Planet; and Keith Quinn, SVP of Production and Development for LivePlanet, describe the venture as a full service boutique studio. The company says it will offer a full range of services necessary for creating and distributing content in the digital space. Agility aims to use its expertise in branded content packaging to finance higher budget projects as well as its understanding of decentralized distribution methods to churn out viral hits. "We plan to play at the edges," says CEO Ehrlich referring to both higher and lower end projects. "We think the middle road is hard."
Agility Studios said that the new company is backed by Mantucket Capital, a private investment firm with over $1B under management. Exact terms and amount of the funding was not disclosed. Agility Studios explained that it will support content creators with infrastructure, including business and creative development, financing, distribution, sponsorship, advertising sales, operations, and other back office support.
Agility Studios launches an online video studio today, led by execs from LivePlanet, FreemantleMedia and RealNetworks. The company aims to offer development, financing, distribution, sponsorship and more to projects made with stars who have established themselves either on the web or more traditionally. Its first project should come online in the next couple of months.
The Los Angeles-based company is to be a pure-play studio. Its philosophy: “Content should be made for the platform in which it’s going to be distributed,” said CEO Scott Ehrlich. There needs to be something about the property that makes it uniquely well-suited to the the Internet.” In a move to avoid conflicts of interests that others have fallen into by controlling both content creation and distribution, however, Agility won’t be building a video portal.
Agility has raised “significant” funding from Mantucket Capital, said Ehrlich, who added that the arrangement involves access to more capital should it be necessary.
The company’s aim is to make “multiplatform” shows that are “quality but with economics that work,” said Chief Creative Officer Keith Quinn. On the revenue side, Agility has brought in Shannon Pruitt to oversee sponsorship and integrated marketing, areas in which she gained some $100 million worth of experience as part of her previous work on shows like American Idol.
Agility aims to work with professional talent, aligning it with other Hollywood-type digital studios like 60Frames and MRC. Quinn actually mentioned Seth MacFarlane’s MRC deal as something Agility would like to emulate. He also mentioned trying to work with “bootstrapped” stars like Felicia Day.
Despite the harsh economic climate, I think it’s good timing for a second generation of new media studios to come out and take advantage of knowing the first generation’s errors and successes.
We asked Quinn if he thinks there are real opportunities these days to make a career online, or if the web was still essentially a stepping stone.
“If Martha Stewart had started her thing today, she might have put all sorts of segments online, and built up her personal brand,” he said. “We’re starting ideas online and in new media because we think that’s where the opportunity and the leverage is. And after that we will expand, or maybe we will stay in new media.”