A consortium of key players in the evolution of Internet applications and digital media today announced the agreement to create a unique new investment vehicle to seed and grow Web 3.0 innovation in Southern California.
The consortium comprises top Hollywood entertainment company, William Morris Agency (WMA), leading Silicon Valley venture capital firms Accel Partners and Venrock, and global communications leader AT&T. Accel, William Morris Agency and Venrock will form a Joint Fund that will focus on discovering, funding and building small, high-impact companies focused on innovation in the consumer media technology arena. AT&T will participate in selected investment opportunities with the Joint Fund as a Limited Participant.
The Joint Fund will be managed by Los Angeles-area angel investor Richard Wolpert, who has previously served as president of Disney Online and chief strategy officer of RealNetworks.
Combining resources in this fashion is unique in the annals of content investing. By merging the talents of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and AT&T in an environment conducive to seed incubation, the group will seek to create opportunities for path-breaking new Web companies to be born.
“This alliance is a great example of bringing the best minds together to help foster the growth and development of media technology in our local economy,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “My hope is that initiatives such as these continue to not only provide new opportunities for our citizens, but also keep Southern California at the forefront of digital innovation.”
Over the course of its 110-year history, the William Morris Agency has been a springboard for innovation within the entertainment industry. From its earliest days, WMA has forged success for a multitude of platforms by developing and driving new forms of content for theater, radio, television, film, Web, video games and now mobile, both domestically and abroad.
“William Morris is in the enviable position of working with some of the most talented and forward-thinking people in the business,” said Jim Wiatt, WMA Chairman & CEO. “That vantage point, coupled with our own extensive experience, enables us to help identify and drive innovation in every area of the media business. Partnering with companies of the caliber and track record of AT&T, Accel and Venrock elevates both our reach and our collective ability to help foster the next wave of entrepreneurship, providing our clients access to cutting edge media opportunities from the outset.”
Accel and Venrock bring a wealth of investment and consumer technology expertise to the alliance. Their broad networks of leading portfolio companies span the globe from Silicon Valley to Israel to China.
“We have great teams that are really committed to the seed process,” said Accel’s Jim Breyer, who spearheaded funding and support for numerous innovative internet companies such as Walmart.Com,
Macromedia, RealNetworks, Facebook, and Brightcove. “The intersection of the media and technology businesses, especially in an area as fundamental as Hollywood, is important to us. We’re committed to being a part of its growth from the ground up.”
“This is a unique time in history - the ecosystem of the Web is now self-supporting for original content generation. Many of the ideas that were laughed at in the late ’90s bubble weren’t bad, they were just early,” said Venrock’s David Siminoff, who brings a history of successful investing, operations and film production to the table. “This alliance creates a rich outlet for the burgeoning talents of the Los Angeles creative community.”
AT&T, a global leader in the communications industry and itself a long-standing source of meaningful innovation, brings to the group extensive experience in research and development, global brand and product marketing, and expertise in scaling new products and services.
“AT&T is focused on driving innovation that enables people to do more and get more from their connectivity,” said Susan Johnson, senior vice president of Business Development for AT&T. “We are
excited about working with this venture to accelerate the pace of innovation so that consumers can benefit from next-generation services and capabilities.”
“This is a great opportunity to work with some fantastic companies and investors,” said Wolpert. “It’s an honor for me to be a part of this group and have a chance to help a new branch of the technology industry grow.”
About the William Morris Agency
At the forefront of the marketing, media and entertainment industries, The William Morris Agency has principal offices in New York, Beverly Hills, Nashville, London, Miami Beach and Shanghai, China. WMA represents clients from all artistic disciplines, including motion pictures, television, music, theatre, publishing, commercial endorsements, sports, digital media, and video games. William Morris Consulting, the company’s corporate advisory group, works with some of the world’s most recognized consumer brands to create entertainment-based marketing strategies. The William Morris Agency can be found at http://www.wma.com.
About Accel Partners
Accel was established in 1983, and today invests globally with offices in Palo Alto, California and London, as well as in China via the IDG-Accel Partnership. With over $4 billion under management, Accel has helped technology entrepreneurs build over 300 successful companies, many of which have defined their categories. The Accel portfolio includes long-term market leaders such as Veritas, RealNetworks, Foundry Networks and Polycom, as well as recent IPO’s MetroPCS, Infinera, ComScore, and Riverbed Technologies.
Venrock is a premier venture capital firm with offices in Menlo Park, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Israel. Originally established as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family, Venrock continues a seven-decade tradition of partnering with entrepreneurs to establish successful, enduring companies. Having invested $1.9 billion in 405 companies resulting in over 120 IPOs over the past 39 years, Venrock’s investment returns place it among the top tier venture capital firms that have achieved consistently superior performance. With a primary focus on technology, healthcare, and energy, portfolio companies have included Adnexus Therapeutics, Apple Computer, Centocor, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, Gilead Sciences, Idec Pharmaceuticals, Illumina, Intel, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, StrataCom, and Vontu. For more information, please visit Venrock’s website at www.venrock.com.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates, AT&T operating companies, are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. Among their offerings are the world’s most advanced IP-based business communications services and the nation’s leading wireless, high speed Internet access and voice services. In domestic markets, AT&T is known for the directory publishing and advertising sales leadership of its Yellow Pages and YELLOWPAGES.COM organizations, and the AT&T brand is licensed to innovators in such fields as communications equipment. As part of its three-screen integration strategy, AT&T is expanding its TV entertainment offerings. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com.