Thursday, June 9, 2016
Interview with Peter Csathy, CREATV Media
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
If you wanted to find someone who truly understands the convergence of the media and technology, you need to go no further than Peter Csathy, the CEO of newly launched CREATV Media (www.creatv.media). Csathy was most recently CEO of Manatt Digital Media, and also was President and CEO of Sorenson Media, CEO of Sightspeed, President and COO at MusicMatch, in addition to serving at companies like Universal Studios and New Line Cinema. Because of that, he has some unique insights into this market, having touched many, many pieces of the industry. We spoke with Csathy about the new firm and his thoughts on the industry.
What is Creatv all about?
Peter Csathy: CREATV Media is a very different kind of firm. The word firm is not even a word we like. What we are doing, is we are taking a holistic approach to business and projects in the digital media space. We are an innovation, investment, and advisory firm. The reason why, is we're more than a consulting firm, in that we also provide access to capital, and access to production, resources, and talent. It's a full range of activities. We have a very significant, deep network, and relationships from the best of the best, across multiple disciplines. That's different from others out there. It's really the home of a broad base of services to help media and tech companies develop new opportunities, and accelerate their success.
How did you decide to start the firm?
Peter Csathy: I'm an entrepreneur, a builder of companies. I came to Manatt to build digital media companies. Manatt is a significant brand in the digital media space, particularly in Los Angeles, and it's a great place, and we'll continue to collaborate on opportunities. However, I'm a builder. What I'm building here, is a very different vision, which is broader, brings together a diverse set of skills, and a set of people with talent and with deep networks.
Does this include investments or an investment fund?
Peter Csathy: Although many of us are angel investors, and we have significant access to capital and relationships, what we are doing is providing the connection to the right opportunities, connecting people with the right sources of capital.
Given your long history in digital media, what kinds of things in the industry interest you?
Peter Csathy: I made a prediction story at the beginning of 2016, and the top two areas I indicated were interesting, were the significant consolidation in the media and technology space, and also the emergence of mainstream, virtual reality. If you look at what we've seen now in the first six months of the year, these are both happening in a significant way. Yahoo is on the block—I just wrote a piece on my blog with data points that reflect that—and you can see all of the activity happening, as I anticpated, in media and technology consolidation. VR is now also a real, big, commercial business. On the M&A front, I an the team have exclusive access into how various businesses are thinking, and identifying potential M&A opportunities, and helping to make them happen. Another example in the VR space, is I've worked personally with virtual reality companies, and we have a number of clients in that space, so from an investment standpoint, that’s an obvious place to look at. One of our affiliates is Rothenberg Ventures, out of the Bay Area, and they started one of the first VR/AR accelerators. Mike is a thought leader and affiliated with what we are doing here. In the creative media side of things, there is an emergence of standalone, OTT services, and we now have more and more standalone video services, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, NBC, CBS All Access, and on and on. The question for all of these, is how do you differentiate your subscription service. That's an area the team and I have spent extensive time, and where we can create a strategy to help out.
So where are we today in the movement of media to digital media?
Peter Csathy: The pace of this fundamental transformation of the media business will only accelerate. You have to get ahead of it, and move aggressively to have success there. There are too many people trying to hang on to existing business models, and the traditional ways of running those businesses, and they are going to be left behind. The big opportunity is the fundamental, transformation of media via digital technology, which is a tremendous opportunity. I'm optimistic, and my team is optimistic, that we can find the right opportunities to execute and make it happen.
You've worked on both sides, in both entertainment and traditional media, and technology. Where are we in bringing those worlds together?
Peter Csathy: I feel very fortunate that I have had half my career at traditional media companies like Unviersal Studios, and half as a true entrepreneur, building companies in the digital media space. I've seen how technology can be leveraged in the media world to expand opportunities, and I think now you are finally seeing that long awaited convergence. The lines between media and technology companies are blurring. Media companies understand that they need to leverage digital opportunities like digital distribution, so everyone is in that space. And, you've seen that all of the major tech companies are transforming into media companies. Google has been a media company for quite some time, but you look at Facebook, and you absolutely know they are becoming a media company. Snapchat started as a communications company, but it too is transforming itself into a media company. Twitter started as a mini blogging platform, but now it also wants to become more of a media company. The example there is their licensing of the NFL streaming rights, that's a big play. That's just talking about the domestic opportunity. We truly live now in a borderless world, and there are a lot of behemoths outside of the U.S. The Alibabas of the world are becoming very significant players in the global space, and more and more, we're seeing both the media companies and tech companies willing to participate in these global partnerships. It's a real opportunity.