3BlackDot – a hybrid entertainment company with gamer and social-media-marketing roots and composed of video production, game development, online influencer and integrated marketing units – has officially come out of stealth mode this morning. Company principals include two former Machinima executives (Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton) and two prominent YouTube personalities (SeaNanners, aka Adam Montoya, and TheSyndicateProject, aka Tom Cassell).
As well, Stepleton’s older brother, former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, will join the organization as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video-content production company. The first Pickaxe project will be a live-action short based on Zombie Killer Squad, the mobile title developed by the company’s game unit and released last November to substantial success. The trailer for the short will be shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week, at a lounge 3BlackDot will be running for its online influencers and others.
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Cross-platform entertainment site All Def Digital named former Machinima executive Sanjay Sharma as the site’s first president and COO, co-founder Russell Simmons said today. Sharma also will join the site’s board, and will be responsible for day-to-day business and operational affairs while working with Simmons and other site founders on strategic direction. Simmons, the music and entertainment impresario, launched ADD last year with a string of YouTube online video shows and series featuring acts such as musicians Spoken Reasons and Odd Future, slam poetry, comedy, the reality show Love Dollhouse and more. The site has since continued to branch out on various distribution platforms and with new programming. It has partnered with DreamWorks Animation digital video unit AwesomenessTV, HBO, YouTube and Universal Music Group, where Simmons’ Def Jam Music is quartered. The company also recently announced ADD52, a deal with Samsung’s streaming music service Milk Music to release a single from a little-known music artist every week for a year.
Sharma spent five years at Machinima as one of its first employees and left a few weeks ago as EVP Strategy and Business Development after helping spearhead a $18 million round of funding led by Warner Bros in March. Sharma previously worked in Warner’s business & legal affairs operations, and for an ad-tech startup.
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Mobile game startup Seriously has added seed capital, an Angry Birds veteran and notable advisor Dan Romanelli, the founder and former president of Warner Bros. worldwide consumer products division during the era when it cranked out billions of dollars in revenue from licensing of franchises such as Batman and Harry Potter. The company also announced that it had roughly doubled its seed funding with $2.65M in additional financing from current investors Sunstone Capital and Upfront Ventures. Philip Hickey joined the company as VP of Marketing & Communications from Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds. The company also added as an advisor Ujjal Kohli, former CEO and co-founder at Rhythm New Media and former CMO for AirTouch Cellular; and game artist Petri Rasanen, formerly with Rocketpack, which was acquired by Disney three years ago.
Machinima’s main channel passes 5 billion views on YouTube
The big multi-channel network Machinima said its eponymous main YouTube channel has passed the rather epic viewer total of 5 billion. The channel launched in 2007, though it since has been joined by 22,000 other channels within the Machinima network. Earlier this spring, Warner Bros. led an $18 million round of investment into Machinima. At nearly the same time, the MCN also laid off most of its sales unit as it readjusted its structure to rely more on YouTube. The site remains heavily focused on videogames and gamers, one of the … Read More »
Chad Gutstein, formerly COO at the Ovation television network, has been tapped as CEO at Machinima, the latest move as the online video service revamps itself as a player in original content. Gutstein will spearhead Machinima’s network and brand strategy and oversee programming, sales, marketing, strategic partnerships, product development, and diversification of distribution and revenue. At Ovation, Gutstein grew the arts network’s reach to nearly 55 million households from 5M, booting its original programming plans significantly last fall after Ovation was dropped by Time Warner Cable at the end of 2012 in an effort to control costs. “Machinima is ready for the next level, and Chad has all of the unique qualities we were seeking in a new CEO to bring us there,” said Machinima co-founder and chairman Allen DeBevoise in a release today announcing the hire. “His fresh and respected outlook, deep knowledge of the TV and digital business, and proven track record will all benefit Machinima as we enter our next phase of growth. Chad’s most recent experience building Ovation’s brand and audience, and translating the value of its audience and programming to TV distributors and tier one advertisers, will help Machinima exponentially accelerate its mission.”
Machinima axed 30% of its work force earlier this month and soon after named ex-Fox Networks boss Tony Vinciquerra to its Board of Directors, the body to which Gutstein will report. Machinima also recently raised $67M in financing from the likes of Warner Bros (which led funding with $18M), Google Capital and Redpoint Ventures as the service looks to find ways to make money outside of its partnership with YouTube, which takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells. Read More »
YouTube network Machinima has unveiled sci-fi short Enormous, a live-action pilot to which Machinima will give a series commitment if its 10.9M YouTube fans demand it. (Watch it below.) Ceren Lee stars as a resistance fighter in a postapocalyptic future in which massive insect-like monsters have invaded Earth. Enormous is the second of three original shorts Machinima is debuting this month, each with the potential for a series greenlight, marking an essential next step as Machinima looks to evolve from YouTube video aggregator to content producer.
Machinima’s recent $18M investment from Warner Bros and yesterday’s addition of ex-Fox Networks CEO Tony Vinciquerra to its board are signs of its transition from programming other creators’ work to owning its IP. Here’s how this one came together as the company began seeking original content.
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Machinima is continuing its revamp after axing 30% of its work force earlier this month, saying today that Tony Vinciquerra has joined its Board of Directors. It’s a pretty good a sign that the online video service has aspirations to grow its original content, with Vinciquerra having managed all operations, tactically and strategically, for all of Fox’s networks and their online businesses during his tenure as Fox Network Group chairman and CEO. He left Fox in 2011 and is currently a senior adviser at TPG, one of the principals in the new studio venture being launched by Robert Simonds. Machinima recently raised $67M in financing from the likes of Warner Bros (which led funding with $18M) and Google Capital as it looks to find ways to make money outside of its partnership with YouTube, which takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells. “[Vinciquerra] is one of the most respected and accomplished media executives in the industry, and his experiences growing the Fox broadcast and cable networks groups over the past decade will help inform our content and ad sales strategy going forward,” said Machinima co-founder, chairman and CEO Allen DeBevoise in announcing the move today.
This was expected, and needed, as evidenced by last week’s announcement that the online video service that targets gamers (read: teenaged boys and young men) axed about 30% of its workforce. But it’s interesting to see how much today’s release plays up the potential partnerships between Machinima and Warner Bros. Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise says that there are “myriad opportunities” to connect their audiences. And Warner Bros Television Group President of Business and Strategy Craig Hunegs says he’s “excited” about the ability “to reach new audiences, create new original content, and discover new talent.” Don’t be surprised if they look for projects outside of Google’s YouTube, which collects about 45% of the ad revenues it sells for Machinima. No word here about the terms of the financing arrangement, although the companies say that current investors MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Capital have also upped their stake. Machinima is said to have raised $67M, including $35M from Google. Here’s today’s official announcement:
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Today’s announcement and other financial moves reportedly in the works for the gaming-oriented online service underscore how hard it is for channels to make money at YouTube. Machinima – which describes itself as “the number one global video entertainment network for young males” — says today that the layoffs, hitting 30% of the workforce, are part of its “restructuring in and around its sales organization” as it leans on its “longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales.” But it also comes as it lines up $18M in funding from a group led by Warner Bros, website Re/code reports, citing “people familiar with the transaction.” Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros was mulling the possibility of investing as much as $15M in the online video operation. The numbers are a far cry from the amounts approaching $70M that Machinima was said to be hoping to secure last year. One of the problems for YouTube services like Machinima is that Google takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells, as well as much of the inventory. Read More »
The global video network that runs YouTube‘s top entertainment channel said today it is eliminating 22 of its 206 employees. Machinima said it plans to make an increased commitment to programming and distribution and its YouTube network, and the cash saved by the cuts will go to boosting investment in those areas. The company said it will announce its new programming and distribution initiatives over the next several months. The youth-skewing network serves 2.6 billion video views and reaches more than 200 million uniques monthly with content that includes scripted series, daily and weekly shows, gameplay videos and official publisher content. In March, it inked a deal with Ridley Scott’s commercials production company RSA to produce 12 short films that will focus on science fiction content that might be grown into feature franchises.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount’s Insurge label is partnering with online network Machinima on Chop Shop, a new web series set in LA’s black market car theft underworld. The early 2014 release follows a pair of pro car thieves whose friendship is tested when one betrays the other; heist action and auto chases ensue. Chop Shop is created by Mortal Kombat: Legacy duo Josh Baizer and Marshall Johnson and produced by Bandito Bros (Act Of Valor), Josh Weinstock, and Elliott Lester. Lester will also direct the series. Insurge, specializing in microbudget digital and theatrical fare, had recent digital success with the dating spoof web series Burning Love which Yahoo and then E! picked up. Matching Chop Shop with popular online destination Machinima is a similar fit targeting the 18-34 year old male demo via YouTube, mobile, and Xbox.
EXCLUSIVE: The move shows that Edelman Digital is stepping up its effort to introduce clients to gaming and YouTube videos. Rob Jones had been VP Gaming Programming at Machinima, one of YouTube’s most popular channels that specializes in the gaming lifestyle. “It was great being at Machinima, but five years is a long time in digital,” he says. As VP Digital Strategy at Edelman Digital, he’ll help clients including Activision, Samsung, Qualcomm and Volkswagen come up with game plans to spread their messages on the emerging media. Edelman also has hired Sam Kennedy, formerly VP Content and Community at Huddler.com, to be VP Gaming, where he’ll work specifically with Activision.
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott and his commercials production company RSA will team with Machinima to produce 12 short films that will focus on science fiction content that might be grown into feature franchises. Machinima is the top global video entertainment network for males aged 18-34, reaching more than 2.6 billion views monthly. It is the top-rated entertainment channel on YouTube.
Despite turning 75, Scott continues to have an appetite for cutting-edge stuff and emerging technologies. He won’t direct any of these short films but will be a hands-on executive producer with RSA president Jules Daly. With Machinima, they will select directing clients of RSA and figure out what stories to tell.
Machinima has provided a strong springboard for genre content on the web. The network distributed Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which revived the moribund Mortal Kombat franchise. It started with a short film and is now in its second season and led to a feature film in development. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn premiered last fall and the series has received more than 3.2 million views. Read More »