20 VC 007 The Evolution of Content and the Venture Capital Industry with Peter Csathy



In the 7th episode of "20 Minutes VC," host Harry Stebbings interviews Peter Chardi, CEO of Manat Digital Media Ventures with a background in media tech and startups. Chardi discusses his transition from traditional media to the entrepreneurial and venture capital side, emphasizing the importance of unique vision and storytelling in startups. Manat differentiates itself with its legal and advisory services, incubator, and focus on media and entertainment. Chardi predicts content disruption through mobile platforms and the rise of brands as content creators. He also sees location as crucial for startups, particularly in LA for digital media ventures. On monetization, Chardi believes in native advertising and brands telling stories that resonate with consumers. Highlighting the importance of tenacity in entrepreneurship, he recommends Ernest Shackleton's biography for inspiration.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Peter Chardi and Manat Digital Media Ventures

  • Peter Chardi is the CEO of Manat Digital Media Ventures.
  • Manat Digital Media Ventures has invested in companies like Pinterest and Etsy.
  • Peter's previous roles include CEO of Sorensen Media and experience with site speed, which was acquired by Logitech.

"Now on today's show, we have Peter Chardi. Peter is CEO of Manat Digital Media Ventures and their previous investments include companies such as Pinterest and Etsy."

This quote introduces Peter Chardi and highlights his current role and notable investments of Manat Digital Media Ventures, setting the stage for his expertise in the venture capital industry.

Peter Chardi's Background and Entry into Venture Capital

  • Peter Chardi has 25 years of experience in the media tech world.
  • He spent half of his career in traditional media companies, including Universal, New Line Cinema, and Savoy.
  • In 2000, Peter transitioned to the entrepreneurial side, building digital media tech companies with successful exits.
  • His journey included raising capital and selling companies, providing him with a diverse experience in the industry.
  • Peter joined the venture side and advisory side at Manat Digital Media, seeing it as a compelling opportunity to use his experience.

"I've been in the media tech world for 25 years, so a long time. I spent half my career in the traditional media companies, so studios such as Universal, New Line Cinema and Savoy, so kind of the small, medium and large studio system. And then in 2000, I struck out to go into the more entrepreneurial side."

This quote summarizes Peter's extensive background in the media tech world, his experience with major studios, and his transition to entrepreneurship, which provided him with a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

Peter Chardi's Aha Moment for Switching to Venture Capital

  • Peter's aha moment came from realizing he could use his contacts, relationships, and experiences to add value to others at an earlier stage in their professional journey.
  • He saw an opportunity to provide "rocket fuel" to startups and entrepreneurs through his venture capital involvement.
  • This realization came at a point in his career where he felt he could significantly contribute to the growth of other companies.

"My aha moment is that I've just collected over the years these wonderful contacts, relationships and experiences, good and bad. And I felt like I was in a position where I could add real value to others who are going through that process at an earlier stage."

Peter's quote explains his motivation for entering venture capital: leveraging his network and experience to support and accelerate the growth of startups and entrepreneurs.

Manat Digital Media's Differentiating Features

  • Manat Digital Media Ventures is unique in the venture capital space, offering business advisory, legal expertise, and an incubator called Originate Labs.
  • Their venture capital approach is distinguished by a depth of expertise in media, entertainment, and advertising.
  • They have recently launched an incubator in partnership with a software development house and a major talent agency.
  • Manat Digital Media Ventures addresses the legal complexities of digital media, such as IP rights, licensing issues, and privacy concerns, providing a comprehensive support system for startups.

"What makes us unique on the incubator, or excuse me, on the vc side, is that we have a depth of expertise and context when it comes to media and entertainment and advertising as specific areas related to our conversation."

This quote emphasizes Manat Digital Media Ventures' unique position in the venture capital industry, with a specific focus on media and entertainment, and how they integrate legal and business expertise to support their investments.

Unique Value Proposition of Manat

  • Manat differentiates itself by offering more than just financial investment; it provides "smart money" tailored for specific businesses.
  • They incorporate legal and business consulting services, which is uncommon in the venture capital industry.
  • This comprehensive approach meets the evolving demands of clients and entrepreneurs who prefer integrated services.

"makes us a pretty unique place from more than just money, it's really smart money for the right kind of business."

This quote emphasizes Manat's unique selling point, which is not just providing capital but also offering intelligent and strategic support to the right kind of business.

  • The absence of legal branches in most funds is attributed to a historical focus on singular service areas.
  • Manat stands out by combining business consulting and legal services with venture funding.
  • The expectation is that businesses will increasingly seek integrated services like those offered by Manat.

"The times that we sit in where businesses were very much focused on one area before and being less full service on the professional services side, Manat's always been a unique place because we've had business consulting in a very McKinsey like way for a long time, as well as the legal."

Peter Chardi explains that traditionally, businesses have been specialized in one area, but Manat has been unique in offering a full suite of services, including business consulting and legal advice.

Manat as Innovators in Venture Capital

  • Manat perceives itself as early innovators in the venture capital game.
  • They have been operating a venture fund for over a decade, integrating various professional services early on.

"We're just early. We're innovators, truly, we're innovators in the venture game."

Peter Chardi positions Manat as pioneers in the venture capital industry, highlighting their early adoption of a more integrated approach to investing.

Investment Criteria for Startups

  • Peter Chardi looks for startups with a unique vision and an area he is knowledgeable about.
  • Passion, vision, and a track record (though not exclusively) are key factors in the evaluation.
  • He values tenacity, hard work, and thorough analysis of the competitive landscape.
  • Being able to articulate a differentiated and convincing story is crucial for startups seeking investment.

"But what really gets me excited is when I see a unique vision."

Peter Chardi emphasizes the importance of a startup having a unique vision, which is a critical factor in his investment decisions.

Importance of Storytelling in Investment

  • Storytelling is essential for startups to convey their unique vision.
  • It's not about charisma but the ability to logically and convincingly present the investment opportunity.

"You have to be a good storyteller because you have a limited amount of time. You have to be a good storyteller and build the credibility as best you can, but with a vision that is truly unique."

Peter Chardi stresses the importance of storytelling in the investment process, as it helps startups to build credibility and effectively communicate their vision.

Disruption of Content in 2015

  • The smartphone has become the primary device for media consumption, changing the landscape of content distribution.
  • This shift necessitates rethinking the consumer experience and content creation for the mobile platform.
  • It opens new opportunities for content creators and ways to monetize and engage with consumers.
  • The rise of multichannel networks is partly due to the new dynamics of content consumption via smartphones.

"It's what we really started to see accelerating in 2014, and I've done a lot of writing about it, which is we have the new platform. It's not entirely new, but now it's really mass appeal, which is the smartphone."

Peter Chardi identifies the smartphone as a significant platform that has gained mass appeal and is reshaping the content industry, marking a shift in how media is consumed and created.

Key Theme: Evolution of Media Companies and Brand Engagement

  • Major media companies are recognizing the shift in platform engagement and are investing heavily in new media ventures, as seen with Disney's acquisition of Maker Studios.
  • Traditional media platforms are losing ground to new, digital platforms where younger generations spend most of their time.
  • Brands are starting to redefine themselves, not just as sellers of products but as promoters of lifestyles and experiences.

"and A in 2014. And I absolutely believe that's going to continue in 2015, because the major media companies and others, by the way, such as significant brands, are going to want to play on that platform that they haven't played effectively in yet. So that's why you saw Disney buy maker studios for up to a billion dollars."

This quote emphasizes the trend of major media companies investing in new platforms to remain relevant and engage with a new generation of consumers. Disney's purchase of Maker Studios is highlighted as a significant move in this direction.

Key Theme: The Future of Advertising

  • The future of advertising lies in creating more relevant and engaging conversations with consumers through targeted and intelligent messaging.
  • Advertising will evolve beyond broad, generic approaches to personalized storytelling that aligns with consumer interests and lifestyles.
  • Brands are exploring various advertising methods, including native advertising, branded content, and experiential marketing, to create more meaningful connections with their audience.
  • Significant brands are transforming into lifestyle promoters, exemplified by Red Bull's shift from focusing on energy drinks to promoting an adrenaline-fueled lifestyle through its own media company.

"Well, look, there's going to be continuous experimentation to get it more right than has been done. If a marketer can have a conversation with you, and that conversation is more relevant to you than just a pure broad rifle shot, which has been historically the case, that alone will make it more effective, because I will be more interested if it's something that speaks to me in my wants, my needs."

The quote discusses the evolution of advertising towards a more personalized and conversational approach, moving away from broad, one-size-fits-all strategies to increase effectiveness and consumer interest.

Key Theme: Crowdfunding's Impact on Content Creation

  • Crowdfunding platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter are making content creation more accessible for independent artists and filmmakers.
  • Patreon offers a subscription-based model for ongoing support of artists, which allows fans to contribute regularly to the artists they care about.
  • Crowdfunding is providing a lifeline for independent filmmakers squeezed out of traditional theatrical distribution, enabling them to raise funds and produce their work.

"Yeah, absolutely. I think crowdfunding is really interesting because let's take Patreon as an example. Patreon is a Bay Area based company that was created by musician for artists, not just musicians. And it's a different kind of crowdfunding model where it's a subscription, ongoing support of your artists, that means something to you."

This quote highlights the unique approach of Patreon in the crowdfunding space, focusing on sustainable, ongoing support for artists from their fans, which is a departure from traditional one-time crowdfunding campaigns.

"The indie movie houses are going away. So what happens to the whole indie film business? Well, fortunately, you do have Kickstarter campaigns, and a good friend of mine from one of my former schools who's this talented playwright who's had great success, just created an indie film, just had a Kickstarter campaign, just raised a significant amount of money on the Kickstarter campaign, and will be able to do her movie now where otherwise that vision, that story would not be told. That's happening today."

This quote illustrates the positive impact of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter on the indie film industry, offering an alternative route for independent filmmakers to finance and produce their movies despite the decline of indie movie houses.

  • Peter Chardi recommends books that inspire tenacity, teamwork, and the "never say die" attitude for entrepreneurs.
  • He suggests Ernest Shackleton's biography and the story of the Endurance, emphasizing the importance of belief, calmness, undaunted spirit, and teamwork.
  • Shackleton's story is highlighted for its low odds of success and the inspirational leadership that prevailed in extreme circumstances.

"So the books that really speak to me are those that inspire me in that way. And one that comes to mind is if you've ever heard of Ernest Shackleton."

The quote underlines Peter Chardi's belief in the power of inspirational stories over traditional business books for entrepreneurs, using Shackleton's story as a prime example.

The Importance of Location for Startups

  • Peter Chardi believes location is important for startups, especially in the digital media industry.
  • He cites Los Angeles (LA) as a current hotspot for multi-channel networks and ad tech, suggesting LA as an advantageous location for new companies in this sector.
  • He also acknowledges the significance of New York due to its proximity to Madison Avenue.
  • Chardi mentions Zoomin TV, a UK-based company, to illustrate the challenges faced by companies outside the US in gaining mindshare, reinforcing the importance of physical location.

"I think it does matter, which makes it challenging for entrepreneurs, and I get that."

This quote emphasizes Peter Chardi's view on the significance of location for startup success, particularly in the digital media space.

"And there's no wonder that that company will certainly be opening up an office in the United States."

Chardi uses the example of Zoomin TV to illustrate the necessity for even successful international companies to establish a presence in the US to increase their visibility and opportunities.

"I think if you're a passionate person and you really want to optimize the chances for success, you do what you need to do. Yes."

This quote reflects Chardi's advice to entrepreneurs to take bold steps, such as relocating to LA, to maximize their chances of success in the content and video space.

Quick Fire Round: GoPro's Future and Online Video in 2015

  • Peter Chardi expresses excitement about GoPro, predicting its transition from a hardware company to a media company.
  • He acknowledges the significance of online video in 2015 and the potential for companies like GoPro to harness their user-created content.

"GoPro will become a media company."

Chardi's quote predicts the strategic evolution of GoPro, emphasizing the potential shift in its business model towards media.

Final Remarks and Resources

  • Harry Stebbings thanks Peter Chardi for joining the show and offers listeners resources related to the episode.
  • The audience is directed to the Twenty Minute VC's website and social media pages for additional information.

"Now, for all the resources mentioned in today's show, please head on over to www.thetwentyminutevc.com, where you can find all of the items mentioned in today's show on the homepage."

The quote provides listeners with a resource for further exploration of the topics discussed in the podcast, ensuring they have access to supplemental material.

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