Friday, March 28, 2008

Rafat: WMA’s New Fund: The MailRoom Fund

WMA’s New Fund: The MailRoom Fund
By Rafat Ali - Thu 27 Mar 2008 11:16 PM PST
So that’s the name, I found out: William Morris Agency, which announced its then un-named fund along with Accel Partners and Venrock, now has a name for it: The MailRoom Fund. The explanation: rising from the mailroom...David Geffen, Barry Diller, and Mike Ovitz did, as did others. Richard Wolpert, the former president of Disney Online and the chief strategy officer at RealNetworks, is heading the fund. No investments done yet, but it is only three weeks old.
For good measure, here’s the book about rising from the mailroom in Hollywood: “’The Mailroom: Hollywood History from the Bottom Up’: David Rensin
"Updated below: As we have been covering for a while now, the talent agencies here have exploring and raising funds to become de facto venture capital firms themselves, mainly to invest in digital entertainment in the Southern California region. Now William Morris Agency is first off the gates: it is launching a fund along with Silicon Valley VC firms Accel Partners and Venrock, and has an unusual limited partner in the form of AT&T (NYSE: T), reports NYT.
Richard Wolpert, the former president of Disney (NYSE: DIS) Online and the chief strategy officer at RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK), is heading the fund...he has been working with Accel as a venture advisor for at least a year now. The fund’s size is in tens of millions of dollars, and the funding will mainly be in seed rounds in digital media companies, though they will look at larger investments if needed. Also, though the geographic focus is here in SoCal, they could consider other areas as well.
For the VC firms, it is about bridging the tech vs entertainment divide. David Siminoff, GP at Venrock, said, helpfully “The ethos of this fund is about reducing the friction...Hollywood people are not stupid. They are just not technology people.” Thanks guys.
Meanwhile, Susan Johnson, the SVP for business development at AT&T, will be working with the alliance on AT&T’s behalf. It is hoping to invest mobile content and mobile advertising technologies. The company has invested in film financing firm Media Rights Capital before (along with WPP), but that has been more passive.
As for the CAA’s $150 million fund that we reported on first here, we have heard things might have slowed down a bit as the economy slows down. "

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