Media

L.A.’s wealthy gather to talk about disruption, media-tech convergence

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The elites from Los Angeles’s entertainment, financial, and technology industries descended on a Beverly Hills estate last week for a buzzword-filled discussion of the state of media and the trends that will disrupt it.

Summa Group, Oppenheimer & Co.’s L.A.-based wealth-management cell for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, sponsored the private “State of the Industry” party, which hosted 500 guests at a home just south of  Sunset Boulevard. American Standard Television founder Jonas Jonsson, one of the three young executives who helped organize the event, gave us a report on what went down. (Summa Group associate director Jason Ziven and marketing executive Kate Miller teamed with Jonsson to produce the exclusive conference.)

Jonsson said the event brought awareness to the shifting landscape of media in the digital age and provided analyses of opportunities for venture capital investment in that space.  The keynote panel discussion featured an off-the-record conversation between Maker Studios chief executive Danny Zappin and Julia Boorstin.  Maker has over has over 5,000 YouTube channels that receive over 2 billion views per month, and closed a $36 million round of financing led by Time Warner Investments last December.

Zappin and Boorstin’s talk focused on the empowerment of content creators and Maker’s ability to streamline the distribution process, according to CyberNet Communications director Dan Hakimi, who attended the event.  “Zappin hit home the point that technology has completely changed the game in TV production, music and film, and provided savvy entrepreneurs with an opening to monetize these changes and provide a superior experience for the consumer,” Hakimi said.

Additionally, the event featured off-the-record conversations with “Paranormal Activity” producer Jason Blum, “X-Men,” and “Transformers” producer Tom DeSanto, Lowercase Capital partner Matt Mazzeo, former News Corp. executive Emiliano Calemzuk, ex-Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow, and Hollywood power-lawyers Tara Kole and Mark Geragos.

Jason Ziven, Jason Blum

    Jason Ziven interviews Jason Blum.

Kole, who represents clients like Gwyneth Paltrow, said she was intrigued by Blum’s prognostication of the coming video-on-demand-event-movie.  That is to say, Blum believes that the new model for home entertainment will follow the “House of Cards” trend, where on-demand video will become a pay-per-view-styled event, not unlike a boxing match.

“It’s interesting that Jason is looking for a supplement to theatrical that you can market cost-effectively,” she added.

In the closing panel conversation, Calemzuk and Mazzeo discussed the “redimensioning of content production” and opportunities to invest in companies that have disrupted traditional media, said Jonsson.  He also said that Kole spoke about the opportunity for talent to take advantage of new channels of content distribution, like YouTube.

Unlike most banking and media conferences, last week’s event was exceptional because it was coordinated entirely by a team of young and relatively unseasoned execs. While twentysomethings Jonsson and Miller recently graduated from the University of Southern California in 2009 and 2010, respectively, Ziven just turned 30 in January.

Jonsson said guests mingled in the open air eating hors d’oeuvres and sipping Casa Dragones Tequila, a spirit founded by Clear Channel Communications Inc. chief executive (and MTV co-founder) Robert Pittman. After the panel discussions finished, guests were treated to a live performance by a DJ who played electronic dance music, he added.

Additional featured guests included “Contagion” screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, International Creative Management partner Rick Levy, and Picturehouse chief executive Bob Berney.

Top: (l to r) Tom Desanto, Tara Kole, Sandy Grushow, Mark Geragos, Matt Mazzeo, and  Emiliano Calemzuk. Images courtesy ABImages.

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