2011 "25 Digital Entertainment Executives to Watch"
Los Angeles, CA, December 14, 2011 -- Digital Media Wire today unveiled its “25 Executives to Watch in Digital Entertainment” list for the 3rd year recognizing emerging leaders in the digital media and entertainment industry. Digital Media Wire will honor the group at the 4th Annual Digital Media Insider @ CES at the Dos Caminos restaurant at The Palazzo at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, January 6. The executives were selected by the editorial team at Digital Media Wire. Below are short descriptions of each recipient. Join us in congratulating these amazing honorees! 

Fred Amoroso, President & CEO, Rovi

Fred Amoroso is President and CEO of Rovi Corporation, the world leader in Interactive Programming Guides (IPGs) and Metadata. Founded as Macrovision in 1983, the company focused on copy protection technologies for movies, but through a series of acquisitions including its 2008 acquisition of Gemstar, the company moved into the lucrative business of licensing IPGs to service providers. Today, with Amoroso at the helm, Rovi licenses its content to most service providers, and with data on over 1.2 million TV episodes, more than 1.8 million music albums and 16 million tracks and more than 430,000 movie titles, Amoroso has well-positioned Rovi to continue to be one of the most significant companies providing data and IPGs for digital entertainment services from Google TV to iTunes.

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Ashish Arora, VP & GM, Logitech Digital Home

Ashish Arora is VP & General Manager of the Logitech Digital Home Group. Arora’s team is responsible for the development of key technologies, services and product marketing activities of all Harmony remote controls and Google TV products worldwide. To develop the best products, Arora and his team closely track trends in home entertainment and evolving usage behaviors. Prior to this role, Arora led worldwide product marketing and strategic business development for Logitech’s Control Devices business unit, where he was responsible for defining and developing products based on detailed market and technology analysis; developing product positioning, messaging and packaging; and executing on all global product launches. Arora also led the rollout of Logitech’s breakthrough high-end mice, including the MX Revolution mouse and the MX1000 Cordless Laser mouse.

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Rishi Chandra, Product Lead, Google TV

Rishi Chandra is the Lead Product Manager for Google TV. Google TV is Google's new initiative to bring the Internet to TV screens, via new Sony TVs and Blu-Ray players, and a set-top box from Logitech. With a potential market of over four billion users, and the chance to revolutionize the way people use television around the world, Google TV is certainly an initiative to watch in 2011. We will keep our eyes on Chandra as he navigates Google TV through the many obstacles in the way, such as the big US TV networks currently blocking access to their content on Google TV devices, to make this offering a success.

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Susan Choe, Founder & CEO, Outspark

Susan Choe draws upon her more than 12 years of international business management in the video game, internet and financial services industries to lead Outspark’s efforts to reshape the US casual games industry. The S.F.-based startup has raised close to $20 million in financing since it launched in 2007 with the strategy to bring popular Asian games to the US audience and very successfully implemented a "freemium" model to monetize those games. Some have called Outspark the "envy of the virtual goods space", at least when it comes to gaming-oriented content. At SXSW earlier this year, Choe reported astonishing ARPPU revenue figures. In an interview with Virtual Goods News, she confirmed that Outspark's conversion rates were at the high end of the industry average, "in the double digits."

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Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder & CEO, Foursquare

Check-ins, badges and mayorships - Foursquare, a service that mixes social, locative and gaming elements to encourage people to explore the cities in which they live, has revolutionized the way millions of people use their cell phones with over 5 million users worldwide and growing. Foursquare raised $20 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz at a valuation of about $100 million, plenty to fuel its momentum through the end of next year. Dennis Crowley is the co-founder of Foursquare, who continues to close new innovative deals, such as the new deal between Foursquare and unscripted-TV producer Endemol USA. He is definitely on our radar in 2011.

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Bruce Eisen, VP, Online Content Development & Strategy, DISH Network

Bruce Eisen is the Vice President of Online Content Development & Strategy for DISH Network where he is responsible for the strategy and implementation of the company's online and Internet based initiatives. The No. 2 satellite TV operator launched the DishOnline.com website last month with 150,000 videos consisting of a mix of content free to anyone plus TV episodes and movies. Eisen has the interesting job of finding a sustainable business model around the company's TV Everywhere strategy of making television content available to its subscribers on a variety of devices including computers and smart phones.

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Daniel Ek, CEO & Founder, Spotify

Daniel Ek is the CEO and founder of Spotify, a legal online streaming music service headquartered in London, UK, which helps over ten million people discover, browse and play music in seven European markets. The company is currently working on a deal with the record labels to launch in the United States in 2011. Spotify was founded as a reaction to the decline of the music industry and has since, under the leadership of Daniel Ek and his team, been one of the most buzzed-about companies in the music industry.

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Jeff Gomez, CEO, Starlight Runner Entertainment

Jeff Gomez is the world’s leading producer of transmedia entertainment properties. He is an expert at incubating new entertainment franchises, strategic planning and production for cross-platform implementation. As CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a New York-based digital production company, Gomez transforms intellectual properties into global franchises that successfully leverage an array of media channels and mass audience touchpoints. He also extends niche properties such as toys, animation or videogame titles across multiple platforms, which in turn generate multiple revenue streams for Starlight Runner’s partners and clients. Gomez has worked on such blockbuster universes as Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia and Tron, Microsoft's Halo, James Cameron's Avatar, Hasbro’s Transformers, Mattel’s Hot Wheels and Coca-Cola's Happiness Factory.

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Mikael Hed, CEO, Rovio (Angry Bird developer)

Mikael Hed is the CEO of Rovio, the company responsible for the number one mobile gaming phenomenon of 2010, Angry Birds. Rovio is expecting to make $1 million per month in advertising from the free, ad-supported Android version of their mobile game, while also generating millions in revenue from app stores such as Apple’s where an ad-free version can be purchased. In addition to running day-to-day business, Hed has transformed Rovio from a humble game studio and development partner to a world leader with the hottest property in mobile gaming and one we recommend to keep an eye on in 2011.

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Mike Jones, CEO, MySpace

After having lost a lot of momentum to Facebook, MySpace is back with a redesign and a new entertainment focus, all headed up by the newly appointed CEO Michael Jones. In this role, Jones oversees global business operations for Myspace, Myspace Music and Myspace Mobile. He is also responsible for business development, strategic partnerships and support operations across these platforms. So don't count out MySpace just yet ― in 2011 under Mike Jones leadership, we might see the company making some interesting and perhaps unexpected moves.

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Michael Lazerow, CEO, Buddy Media

Michael Lazerow is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded four successful internet-based media companies. As Chairman and CEO of Buddy Media, Inc., Lazerow runs the Facebook management system of choice for the world’s largest brands and agencies. With its scalable, secure architecture and straightforward administrative tools, the Buddy Media Platform revolutionizes the way brands connect with their current and future customers using the power of Facebook’s social connections. The Buddy Media Platform offers the only solution that allows brands to launch, maintain and measure their Facebook presence in any country and in any language. Lazerow works with many of the largest brands in the world. Based in New York, Buddy Media shares four investors with Facebook and was one of the first companies selected by Facebook as a preferred developer partner.

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Bismarck Lepe, Co-Founder & President of Products, Ooyala

Bismarck Lepe is a co-founder and president of products for Ooyala, the fastest growing leader in online video management, publishing, analytics and monetization, serving customers across more than 100 countries and thousands of web properties, and delivering more than one billion streams globally each month, reaching more than 120,000,000 unique users. As president of products, Bismarck is responsible for driving Ooyala's product strategy. Previously, Bismarck was a Senior Product Manager at Google, where he managed the early growth of AdSense display and video advertising and launched more than 25 different Google AdSense products, including Click-to-Play video ads

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Michael Lewis, Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder, RealD

There is no need to inform anyone that 3D was the next big thing at CES last year and it continues to be one of the most-talked about developments of this year. One of the people who has been instrumental in making 3D such a vital part of the growth of digital entertainment is Michael Lewis, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of RealD. Lewis has been responsible for building the company into a globally recognized leader in 3D technology. RealD’s 3D technology has been adopted by major consumer electronics companies and broadcasters for the launch of 3D entertainment in the home as well as at the movies.

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Evan Lowenstein, Founder & CEO, StageIt

Evan Lowenstein launched StageIt in Fall 2010 with the goal of creating a web-based platform that would empower artists to deliver and monetize interactive live experiences. As the start-up's CEO, he relies on his nearly 20 years of experience in the music industry as a recording artist, award-winning writer and executive. Among the unique aspects of StageIt is that it enables performers to generate revenue from LIVE, interactive experiences while giving their fans "a front row seat to a backstage experience." All this is done directly from the artist's laptop (or any computer with a camera). Before founding StageIt, Lowenstein hosted USA Network’s Character Road Trip, a weekly series giving viewers a peek into the country's greatest "characters". Lowenstein was also a recording and touring artist with band Evan and Jaron scoring three Top 40 hits, including Top 10 song Crazy For This Girl.

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Cecily Mak, VP & General Counsel, Rhapsody

As Vice President and General Counsel of Rhapsody, Cecily Mak provides strategic counsel and legal direction across Rhapsody’s entire business, from its corporate & business development activities to its label relations and music publishing efforts. In addition to structuring, negotiating and drafting in and outbound content and technology licensing agreements for the company's digital music business, she provides regular counsel to various teams with regard to the company's product innovation and development. She has been with Rhapsody since 2004, initially as part of RealNetworks and then in connection with Rhapsody America, its joint venture with Viacom’s MTV Networks. She played a key role in Rhapsody’s spinoff into an independent company in early 2010. Mak recently co-authored Music Law in the Digital Age, released in early 2010 by Berklee Press.

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Don Mattrick, President, Interactive Entertainment Business, Microsoft

Don Mattrick is President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft responsible for the businesses which develop key entertainment experiences that span gaming, music and video across multiple screens. Mattrick's team drives development and marketing of Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, the controller-free Kinect for Xbox 360, Zune Music and Video, and Mediaroom, as well as PC and mobile interactive entertainment, manufacturing and supply chain management. In addition, his team cultivates relationships with third-party game publishers and developers around the world. This is a guy to watch!

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Christina Norman, CEO, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network

As the CEO of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network , Christina Norman is responsible for realizing the next step in Oprah's powerful media empire. She manages all business and creative areas of the new cable channel and multi-platform media venture designed to entertain, inspire, and empower people to live their best lives. Ms. Norman came to OWN from MTV, where she most recently served as President, providing the leadership, strategy and management for MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV Tr3s, and MTV.com that kept the youth-oriented brand at the forefront of television entertainment. OWN launches January 1, 2011 so stay tuned!

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Chris Petrovic, GM, Digital Ventures, GameStop

Chris Petrovic serves as GM of GameStop Digital Ventures, the newly created digital strategy, M&A and incubation arm for GameStop Corp., the world’s largest video game retailer. As the principal leader of GameStop's global digital strategy, he is responsible for building on the company's ongoing efforts to integrate digital initiatives into the company's multi-channel strategy, as well as overseeing the development and execution of a digital investment and acquisition strategy. This includes leveraging the company's unique and distinctive relationship with customers in-store, online and around the globe.

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Jeff Price, CEO, Tunecore

If you’ve downloaded or streamed music from a digital service lately, chances are it came through TuneCore, a service that allows bands to sell their music through iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Spotify, Napster and other sites for as little as 99 cents per track, 99 cents per store per album, and $19.98 per album per year. And the artist keeps 100% of royalties. According to the company’s outspoken CEO and Founder Jeff Price, many TuneCore Artists are outselling and/or are making more money than “signed” Artists. In 2009, TuneCore Artists were paid for the download or stream of over 65 million songs and albums over all stores TuneCore works with generating over $35 million in gross music sales. Prior to Tunecore, Price co-founded New York-based independent record label spinART Records. Tunecore is a significant player in the digital music industry and a company to watch.

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Ty Roberts, Co-Founder, SVP & CTO, Gracenote

Recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and credited with producing the industry's first enhanced CDs, Ty Roberts can be considered one of the fathers of modern digital entertainment. He joined Gracenote in 1998 and helped found the company after it acquired ION, a multimedia/music technology venture he founded in 1993. Roberts is Gracenote's chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services. Gracenote’s solutions integrate global metadata and enriched content with an infrastructure that services billions of searches a month from thousands of products used by hundreds of millions of consumers. Gracenote’s customers include the biggest names in consumer electronics, mobile, automotive, software and Internet.

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Randall Rothenberg, Chief Digital Officer, Time Inc.

Time Inc. recently named Randall Rothenberg as its EVP and first Chief Digital Officer. As the man in charge of the evolution of the world's largest media company, Rothenberg has to take on business models still fundamentally based on magazine publishing, which is quite a challenge. But if anyone can do it, he certainly has the credentials. Rothenberg previously served as the president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) since 2007. The IAB is the trade association for interactive marketing in the United States that represents more than 460 leading interactive companies; members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the U.S.

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Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix

Ted Sarandos has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. With more than 20 years' experience in home entertainment, Sarandos is recognized in the industry as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Sarandos oversees the Beverly Hills office of Netflix with a staff of 75 people who manage the company's content acquisition through relationships with studios, networks, film makers and producers. As Netflix has grown to 12.3 million subscribers by the end of 2009, Sarandos has established Netflix as a successful film distributor within the entertainment industry. During Sarandos' tenure, the Netflix library has increased from 2,000 to 100,000 titles on DVD and more than 17,000 movies and TV episodes available to watch instantly on the computer and the TV. Sarandos has been included in Variety's "Global 50," a list of the 50 most influential people in independent film distribution, as well as The Hollywood Reporter's "Indie Power 50."

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Chloe Sladden, Director, Media Partnerships, Twitter

As Director of Media Partnerships, Chloe Sladden works closely with Twitter's broadcast, publishing, entertainment and online media partners from MTV, CNN and ESPN to The Huffington Post, NBCOlympics.com, CBS Interactive and NYTimes.com to help them harness Twitter to create new approaches to content creation, news reporting, interactivity and audience engagement, both online and on-air. Before Twitter, Sladden was VP of Strategic Partnerships at Current TV, a pioneering, Emmy-winning 60M household TV network and online news site.  She produced the Webby Award-winning Hack the Debate as well as Current Diggs the Election and Current Twitters the Inauguration efforts that press described as "perhaps the most radical attempt yet to merge television with the Internet."

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Alex St. John, President & CTO, Hi5

Alex St. John was a driving force behind Microsoft's DirectX technology before leading the successful WildTangent game company. Now President and Chief Technology Officer of hi5, he's leading the San Francisco-based social network's move into gaming, and taking on Facebook in the process. According to the outspoken St. John in an interview with TechFlash, “I think a lot of developers trying to make games on Facebook have problems with them. I've been in the games industry a long time, and when you look at a company like that, which is wildly successful and trips over a fantastic gaming opportunity -- accidentally discovers a new gaming platform, and then neglects it to death or abuses it, you go, what a waste, because there's so much value…I'm excited to have the opportunity to go, look, let me show you guys how to do gaming in this environment correctly.”

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Vivi Zigler, President, NBC Universal Digital Entertainment

As President of NBC Universal Digital Entertainment, Vivi Zigler is responsible for leading the NBC Universal Digital Entertainment team, which is comprised of the NBC Universal Digital Studio and NBC.com. The charismatic executive also lends her support and expertise to all of the NBC Universal entertainment websites. Previously as EVP, Current Programs, NBC Entertainment, Zigler oversaw the production of NBC's slate of comedy and drama series. Her much-lauded previous experience in marketing allowed Zigler an extra dimension to increase NBC's promotional, casting and story opportunities in the Current Programs department. As SVP of Marketing & Advertising Services for The NBC Agency, which also oversaw Marketing and Advertising for Bravo,  Zigler was in charge of overall branding and marketing for Bravo, including the successful campaigns for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Celebrity Poker. The end result saw Bravo attain unparalleled ratings peaks during her term.

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