Los Angeles Business Journal

Film School

Tech firms show studios how to broaden audiences By Omar Shamout Monday, June 16, 2014
Raising Voice: Justin Rezvani, chief executive of theAmplify, at the firm’s Culver City offices.

Raising Voice: Justin Rezvani, chief executive of theAmplify, at the firm’s Culver City offices. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Los Angeles has long been the world’s entertainment capital, so it’s no wonder tech startups are sprouting up here to help content creators better reach their audiences.

Peter Csathy, chief executive of consultancy and venture capital firm Manatt Digital Media, said the opportunity is ripe for tech companies to help content makers figure out how to make money through the growing number of social media channels that have become key avenues for distribution and promotion.

“Companies big and small that have content assets are trying to understand this multiplatform world and engage with their target audience,” while also learning how to monetize, Csathy said.

The bond between content and tech in Los Angeles has become so strong that one startup has grown out of a Hollywood production office.

That’s Epoxy, a year-old Venice company that helps artists and studios understand who’s talking about them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The company, which launched its core service last month, was hatched at Team Downey, the production company founded by “Ironman” star Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan.

About two years ago, Team Downey started developing a Web series and tasked two of its employees, Juan Bruce and Jason Ahmad, to help turn its fans into “super fans.” The Stanford-educated engineers, Bruce specializing in design and Ahmad in computers, said they interviewed dozens of YouTube stars and discovered that the successful online video creators spent massive amounts of time cultivating and engaging their audiences across multiple social media platforms – more time than they spent making videos.

So the pair came up with a Web interface that allowed creators to see in real time which of their videos were getting buzz on social media, while giving them a platform to engage with those fans immediately. Bruce and Ahmad say their technology helps studios make those connections by getting them to think like nimble YouTubers who carry on conversations with their fans and build relationships online.

A meeting with local venture capitalist Mark Suster made Bruce and Ahmad realize they had something bigger on their hands that could be used outside of Team Downey.

Backed by a $2 million seed round from Suster’s Upfront Ventures, other local VCs and Downey Ventures, Team Downey’s funding arm, they formed Epoxy in late 2012.

Instagram rising

Another recent entrant seeking to ease the way for content creators and other brand clients to reach the vast audiences online is Culver City’s theAmplify, which launched in January.

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