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ZillionTV Cuts Staff, Hires New CEO

21 Oct, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

ZillionTV, the TV on-demand content service with five studio partners, has cut 30% of its staff, and founder Mitch Berman has hired a CEO to take his place, he said Oct. 21.

Berman said he hired Jack Lawrence, formerly with Moviebeam, to allow him to spend more time with his family.

“When I’m not there, Zillion TV suffers,” he said. “I’m not a fundraising type of guy. Jack is someone who allows me to work externally, to bring my vision to life.”

Berman will retain the title executive chairman.

“I believe this move will allow ZillionTV to achieve its manifest destiny,” he added.

Berman downplayed the reduction in staff and him relinquishing the CEO role by asking, “Why would a guy like Jack Lawrence join a company that isn’t going to make it?”

Lawrence has more than 25 years of operations and finance experience in both public and private telecommunications and entertainment companies, Berman said.

Berman said the reduction of staff — from around 60 to around 40 — was because the employees “had nothing to do now.”

“Most of them were engineering based, and we’ve got that all in place,” Berman said of ZillionTV’s work with its “Z” bar, which fits on top of a connected HDTV, and gives users access to instant, on-demand streaming video without the need for a hard drive. Users can get content on a buy-to-own, rent or free, ad-supported basis.

The goal of ZillionTV, Berman said, is to bring consumers “the largest TV system ever built,” with instant access to every TV program and some movie content from all the partners the studio can sign.

ZillionTV announced in September that it is trying to partner with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver the service, but is also looking at direct-to-consumer strategies by embedding the service on consumer electronics devices.

“That can’t be done overnight,” Berman said of the embedded initiative. “It’ll take until late next year.”

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