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Digital Drivers 2013: Content Owners


Bill Wheaton, SVP and GM, media division

As SVP and GM of Akamai Technologies’ media division, Wheaton is charged with overseeing the team responsible for making sure digital content products from the company offer accessible video and software applications and media content that’s easy to use. He has also served as director of streaming sales for Akamai.

Steven Chester, VP, film

As VP of film for the Internet content delivery network company, Chester works closely with major studios and distribution outlets (from Netflix to CinemaNow) to make sure the distribution of digital content is error-proof, from post-production to the end-user, consumer experience.


Brad Beale, head of digital video content acquisition

Beale is responsible for acquiring digital content from studios and other sources for subscription VOD and transactional VOD services. Previously, he was VP of business development at Peel Technologies, and at Frontier Communications he was responsible for over-the-top video content. Beale also founded Outperform Sports.


Eddy Cue, SVP, Internet software and services

Cue oversees Apple’s iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, Siri, Maps, iAd and iCloud. He has been with Apple for 24 years and was key in creating Apple’s digital store in 1998, the iTunes Music Store in 2003 and the App Store in 2008. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University.


Fred Baral, business operations and development manager

Baral has been key to Best Buy launching its CinemaNow digital content store in Canada 18 months ago. Best Buy is upping attention on CinemaNow in North America since downsizing retail shelf space for packaged media, including offering the early digital release of select studio movies.


Matthew Strauss, SVP, digital and emerging platforms

Strauss is responsible for leading Comcast’s multiplatform video strategy, including editorial and programming across existing and future platforms such as the cable operator’s TV Everywhere initiative. He oversees all growth in transactional and online video revenue for Comcast and is tasked with developing new, strategic and emerging multiplatform business opportunities.

Maggie McLean Suniewick,  VP, programming

Suniewick manages editorial and programming across all video platforms and consumer touch points, including Xfinity On Demand, XfinityTV.com and the Xfinity TV app. In addition, she oversees the content development team and works closely with content partners to bring their programming to as many platforms as possible. 


Mark Teitell, GM, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem/UltraViolet

As GM of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), the cross-industry consortium behind UltraViolet, Teitell is tasked with managing the interests of the approximately 85 companies behind the initiative, serving as the voice convincing consumers that the buy once, play anywhere cloud content service is the future of home entertainment.

Teitell began working with DECE in 2009. He was named GM in early 2010 and tirelessly works with DECE members to accelerate adoption of UltraViolet. Strategy, marketing, finances, product development and operations all fall under his purview.

With experience in media, communications and consumer technology industries — covering physical and digital home media — Teitell brings a wealth of knowledge to his role, previously serving as an entertainment expert with consulting firm Oliver Wyman, a member of Sprint PCS’s launch team and as a senior manager with several venture-funded new-media start-ups.

Jim Taylor, head of technology, product development, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem/UltraViolet

As the well-known author of the bestselling McGraw-Hill books DVD Demystified and Blu-ray Disc Demystified, it’s not shocking the DECE, the industry group backing UltraViolet, looked to Taylor as its head of technology and product development.

First joining DECE in 2008, he’s the creator of online home media favorites DVDDemystified.com and UVDemystified.com, staples among the online searches of consumers’ questions regarding home entertainment.

Taylor has previously served as GM and CTO of Sonic Solutions’ advanced technology division and as DVD evangelist for Microsoft.


Dan York, EVP, programming and content officer

York spearheads the satellite-TV operator’s programming and content rights business. Previous to joining DirecTV, York was president of content and advertising sales at AT&T, where he helped build the AT&T U-verse video platform from the ground up.


Geoff Campbell, VP, online strategy and development, Blockbuster

Campbell helps define the business direction for Blockbuster On Demand, including device partnerships, business operations and service. He also helps leverage the Blockbuster brand through new video businesses, including Dish World, a Web-based international linear TV service.


Michael Rockwell, EVP, advanced technology group

Rockwell is charged with overseeing Dolby’s new technology and new business endeavors. He previously served as EVP of products and technology, helping to pioneer new sound-quality technologies for the home, mobile and portable devices, and theaters. Prior to coming to Dolby, Rockwell was CTO at Avid Technology and chief architect of software engineering at Digidesign.

John Couling, SVP, E-Media business group

Dolby looks to Couling to expand the company’s reach into the world of connected devices and content services. His worldwide team is responsible for revenue generated from mobile phones, game consoles, PCs, tablets and digital media adaptors. Under his watch the E-Media group has expanded Dolby’s presence in the online world through new partnerships with operating system and mobile-handset chip makers, content providers and consumer electronics companies. Couling first joined Dolby in 1997.


Jon Kirchner, chairman and CEO

Kirchner oversees every aspect of home entertainment technology that the company provides. He first joined DTS in 1993, leading the company from a small startup to one of the top leaders in audio for home media video, games and music. He’s been CEO and a member of DTS’s board since 2002. Within the company, he previously held the titles of president, CFO, COO and EVP of operations, and VP of international.

Brian Towne, EVP and COO

DTS leans on Towne to manage the sound technology company’s daily operations. He’s been with the company since 2003, first serving as SVP of DTS’s consumer/pro audio division. Prior to joining DTS, Towne was director of product management at Kenwood USA, where he oversaw all home and mobile entertainment product planning and development for the North American market.


Mark Greenberg, president and CEO

Greenberg heads the pay-TV, VOD and online service launched in 2009 by Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate. Previously, he launched Showtime On-Demand and other media properties.

Emil Rensing, chief digital officer

As a founding member of Epix, Rensing spearheaded the multi-bitrate delivery of HD feature films with full studio transmission compliance and the ability to share full-length films online with friends in a virtual living room.


Thomas Ashley, CEO

Ashley has quietly spent the past three years building one of the largest independent streaming services. FlixFling has more than 8,000 titles from content providers such as Starz Media, Content Film, Echo Bridge and Well Go USA, among others. It was the first streaming service to offer an integrated digital locker to both transactional VOD and SVOD users.


David Wertheimer, president, digital

Wertheimer was named president of digital in October 2011 and oversees the network’s strategy, operations and ventures in digital entertainment and emerging media platforms, including audience engagement through social networks, online viewing, websites, apps, games and digital network incubation. 

He previously served as the CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, as well as president of Paramount Digital Entertainment. Wertheimer has been immersed in producing content, developing new technologies and managing organizations for more than 15 years.

Hardie Tankersley, VP, digital platforms and innovation

Tankersley finds new ways to apply technology to TV. His team develops new apps and experiences for Fox.com, social media and connected devices in support of all the primetime entertainment shows on the Fox broadcast network.

Throughout the years, Tankersley has managed the development of several online entertainment products, including the first Internet connections for Apple’s eWorld, the Moxi cable media center DVR, the online video portal for Real Networks, and Yahoo’s TV and Movies properties.


Alex Carloss, head of global entertainment partnerships, YouTube

With YouTube making a big push into hosting original content channels, the Google-owned service looks to Carloss to manage YouTube’s business with studios, networks and content creators worldwide.

No stranger to home entertainment, before joining YouTube, Carloss served as EVP and GM of worldwide digital distribution for Paramount, managing the studio’s feature film digital distribution. He’s also held posts with Electronic Arts, Warner Bros., Disney and MGM.


Andy Forssell, acting CEO and SVP, content

Forssell leads all strategy and operations at Hulu. He has grown Hulu’s content business from just two providers in 2007 to more than 460 today. Forssell also has built the distribution business for both Hulu and Hulu Plus, and has spearheaded the company’s expansion into original programming. Forssell holds a BS in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a BS in Russian studies from the United States Military Academy and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Jean-Paul Colaco, SVP, advertising

Colaco leads all aspects of the advertising service, including sales and marketing, operations and advertising product and service innovation. Since joining the team in 2007, Colaco has generated more than 1,000 advertisers and much of Hulu’s $420 million in annual revenue. Under his leadership, Hulu introduced advertising technologies such as ad swap and ad selector.

He holds a BA in economics and a BA in business administration from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Mark Taylor, VP, media and IP services

Telecom and Internet service provider company Level 3 Communications relies on Taylor to oversee the company’s media and IP products. For more than a decade, he’s been with the company in various roles from head of strategy and mergers and acquisitions in Europe to head of the IP and data services strategic business unit, also in Europe.

Before Level 3, Taylor managed global customer contract origination for Concert, a joint venture between AT&T and British Telecommunications.


Robert Lento, CEO

Lento has been the head of Limelight Networks since late 2012, served on its board since early 2013 and brings a wealth of knowledge to the content delivery network company. Previously he served as a senior executive with customer management services company Convergys Corp., information management company Donnelly Enterprise Solutions and computing infrastructure services company Entex Information.


John Batter, CEO

Launching a new digital entertainment service is not easy. So when Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation launched M-Go, the new entertainment service that offers streaming, VOD and EST of movies and TV shows, they turned to industry veteran Batter to oversee the operation.

He’s responsible for the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of M-Go, which also serves as an UltraViolet retailer.

Before taking on this job, Batter was president of production for DreamWorks Animation, where he managed worldwide production, post-production, technology and studio finances. He managed strategic partnerships with Intel and Samsung, helped launch online marketing for the studio’s films and played a pivotal role in building the studio’s 3D business.

Batter also has worked with Electronic Arts and was a founding member of the management team for DreamWorks Interactive, a joint venture with Microsoft.


Blair Westlake, corporate VP, media and entertainment

Westlake is Microsoft’s liaison with worldwide media and entertainment companies, working with studios, broadcasters, cable and satellite providers, and the music industry to bring digital content to Microsoft services and devices, including Xbox, PCs, tablets and phones. At Microsoft’s Interactive entertainment business division, Westlake directs the group charged with all content licensing, business development and policies.


Daren Tsui, co-founder and CEO

Tsui founded the company in 2004 to become the first mobile music service in North America to stream a “full format” radio service, including news, sports, finance, talk and music channels, as well as the first to stream full-length feature films to mobile phones. Tsui sold mSpot to Samsung last year. It has more than 6 million paying subscribers.

Ed Ho, co-founder and CTO

Ho is responsible for mSPot’s strategic vision and has played an integral role in the company’s evolution since its launch in 2004. Ho holds an MS in computer science from Stanford University and a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.


Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO

Hastings co-founded Netflix as a by-mail DVD rental service in 1997. In 2002, he took the company public, and in 2003, it surpassed 1 million subscribers. Netflix began streaming content over the Internet in 2007 and today has more than 30 million subscribers. The SVOD service this year has moved into original programming, launching with political thriller “House of Cards.”

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer

Sarandos oversees the Beverly Hills, Calif., office of Netflix with a staff of more than 75 that manages the company’s content acquisitions, including landmark deals with The Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks Animation.

Neil Hunt, chief product officer

Hunt spearheads the product team, which designs, builds and optimizes Netflix’s SVOD business. He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Aberdeen, U.K., and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Durham, U.K.


Shawn Strickland, CEO, Redbox Instant by Verizon

To lead the launch of new digital content service Redbox Instant by Verizon, Redbox and Verizon have put their faith in Strickland. He oversees the overall strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the company, and makes sure this fledgling service gets the attention it deserves among a sea of digital content offerings.

Before taking on his current task, Strickland was Northeast regional president for Verizon’s Wireline business, leading a team of more than 5,000 employees. Before that, he was VP of strategy and planning for Verizon’s Telecom business, responsible for pricing, packaging and promotions.

Jack Gallagher, CTO, Redbox Instant by Verizon

Gallagher is tasked with making sure the Redbox Instant by Verizon application works with consumer electronics devices — and that all the content coming in for the service works for the new service.

He’s responsible for several medium-sized teams focused on software development and also for technology operations. Gallagher is ultimately charged with the long-term technology strategy and structure of the Redbox Instant platform.

Before joining Redbox Instant by Verizon, Gallagher served as an executive director in Verizon’s technology office, focusing on digital media retail services.


Joe Ambeault, product line strategist, business manager, Redbox Instant by Verizon

Ambeault is responsible for the service’s overall product and design strategy, ensuring a positive customer experience and a return on investment, all while managing a team of product managers, business analysts, user interface designers and usability experts. Coming to Redbox Instant from Verizon, Ambeault brings more than 15 years of experience in design, development and product management.


Anthony Wood, founder and CEO

In the early days of Roku, Wood also served as VP of Internet TV at Netflix, where he developed what is known today as the Roku streaming player, originally designed as the original video player for Netflix’s pioneering subscription video-on-demand business.

Steve Shannon, GM, content and services

Shannon heads Roku’s content and services group, which is responsible for establishing new content relationships, acquiring entertainment and growing services on the Roku platform. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Collette Bunton, GM, devices

Bunton leads the devices group, which is responsible for getting Roku products into the hands of consumers around the world. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Washington.

Chas Smith, GM, OEM

Smith oversees Roku’s OEM (original equipment manufacturer) business to expand the Roku platform reach beyond the set-top box and into consumer electronics devices. Earlier in his career, Smith was a keyboard player with a “no name” Scottish rock band and a music writer for radio and TV advertising jingles.


Bill Thomas, SVP, technology

Thomas is charged with overseeing all product and technology strategy for Rovi’s interactive programming guide products. Thomas is considered a prolific inventor as well, holding more than 51 patents, covering DVR, interactive program guide advertisements and VOD.

Bob Shallow, SVP, sales and marketing

Shallow’s main responsibility has been to make sure Rovi is providing the best search and discovery technology available to the millions of cable subscribers licensing Rovi’s technology. Among his laurels, Shallow recently led the commercial launch of Rovi TotalGuide xD, which enables a new generation of TV Everywhere offerings.


Michael Aragon, VP and GM, global digital video and music services, Sony Network Entertainment

Aragon is responsible for Sony’s digital video and music services in 16 countries, covering North America, Europe and Asia, for all PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network branded services, across all Sony, Android and iOS devices. He oversees content acquisition, product management, content operations, programming, marketing, and store and business operations.


Tim Sarnoff,  president, Technicolor Digital Productions

Sarnoff has been president of Technicolor Digital Productions since 2009, overseeing the planning, production and creation of visual effects for films, broadcast, advertising, computer animation production and development.

Sarnoff is well known in the industry, previously serving as president of Sony Pictures Imageworks, the digital production studio dedicated to visual effects and character creation. Prior to Imageworks, he created Warner Digital Studios where he shepherded the start-up and growth of Warner Bros. Animation. That arm of Warner Bros. launched as a four-person startup and today boasts the creation of more than 400 half-hours of TV animation.

Claude Gagnon, president, Technicolor Creative Services

Gagnon is charged with overseeing every technical service the company provides for the film and TV industries, from film to post-production to digital cinema.

For the home entertainment market, Gagnon’s most important role is overseeing video and sound post-production, including transfer of film to video for the TV market and a range of digital imaging services. Technicolor Creative Services also processes film for American studios and independent producers worldwide.

He first joined Technicolor in 2000, after the company acquired Canadian content services business Covitec, which Gagnon founded in 1986.


Bob Toohey, president, Verizon Digital Media Services

Toohey is responsible for the oversight of sales, marketing, service and operations, all geared toward delivering premium VOD, live events, linear content and dynamic ad insertion solutions for the digital media industry. 

His team is charged with providing end-to-end video services, leveraging Verizon’s IP network and media cloud, as well as offering support for TV Everywhere and OTT models, and managing the 1,400-plus channels Verizon offers.

Before his current role, Toohey served as president of Verizon Business, where he oversaw the acquisition and integration of Terremark and CloudSwitch.


Prasanna Ganesan, CTO, Vudu

Ganesan is chief architect and designer of Vudu’s content distribution engine, and the primary inventor and author of the patents behind Vudu’s technology. He’s been with Vudu, which now also supports UltraViolet, since its conception. Ganesan has authored more than a dozen research articles on databases, networking, P2P and other computer science topics.

Chris Nagelson, VP, entertainment merchandising, Walmart

Nagelson is the head of Walmart’s media and entertainment business, first coming on board with the retailer in 2005. He helped launch the company’s disc-to-digital program in early 2012, an initiative that also backs UltraViolet.

Louis Greth, category director, movies and home entertainment, Walmart

Walmart leaned on Greth to launch its UltraViolet-backed disc-to-digital program. He is responsible for its growth and development. Greth has two decades’ worth of retail experience, previously serving as a product development manager for Sam’s Club and a senior buyer of movies for Walmart.


Zane Vella, CEO and founder

Vella oversees the strategic direction and product vision for Watchwith, the cloud software company that helps content owners create, control and distribute valuable related content and services wrapped around their video programming and commercials. Since it launched in 2012, the company’s sync-to-broadcast content management and syndication platform has been used widely by both NBC Universal and Fox Broadcasting, and currently powers a wide range of mobile, Web and tablet applications from Bravo, Fox, NBC, Syfy, USA Network and others.

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