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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Jeff Yapp's Take-Off From Hollywood Entertainment Is the Latest Exit Scene in 'Flight of the Video Executives'

30 Oct, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Jeff Yapp's abrupt and unexpected departure as president of Hollywood Entertainment Corp. is the latest example of what many are calling the Flight of the Video Executives.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Mitch Koch has flown to Microsoft, MGM Consumer Products president Richard Cohen has winged it to a dot-com with an eye toward the electronic delivery of movies, and Columbia TriStar Home Video executive v.p. Paul Culberg flew the coop earlier this year to join a company with a dazzling technology for DVD enhancements.

Yapp hasn't announced his plans, but when the official press release hits today, trumpeting his departure, I've been told it will contain information about a hot new job he's gotten and strongly deny rumors that he quit because Hollywood isn't doing so well.

Therein lies the key to all these departures: video executives aren't exactly jumping off a sinking ship, but they certainly are eyeing the waters for any other opportunities that might be out there.

We can draw useful parallels for retailers. The video business is changing, and it's smart to keep one's options open. It's not necessarily time to get out--although for some, if they have the misfortune of being across the street from Blockbuster, it might be--but it is time to rethink career plans and decide whether to make a long-term commitment to video or else sample the grass in some other pasture.

Video rental isn't going away, at least not yet. But it is getting harder to make a living at it. Even retailers who are still making money concede their standard of living isn't what it used to be. That's why as the year comes to a close, it's important for retailers to assess their businesses, and their cash flow, and start making some pretty hard decisions about the future.

Many may opt to stick it out and shore up their businesses with DVD, adult and non-video products and services.

But others may want to keep their eyes and ears open to what else may be out there. Messrs. Culberg, Koch, Cohen and Yapp didn't aggressively seek to get out, but they didn't stick their heads in the sand, either.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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