Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

NBC-News Corp. NewCo. Has No Name, but CEO Now Has One

So yesterday in a very short post, I said the $1 billion valuation that NBC Universal and News Corp. were reportedly putting on its online video joint venture was, shall we say, premature.

Here’s why: No users, no track record and no revelations about what it is actually going to look like. Also no firm launch date either, it now seems.

And did I mention no name?

kilar

Well, at least as of yesterday, the No-no-no-no-no company had a new CEO–former Amazon executive Jason Kilar (right).

The 36-year-old left the online retailer last year, after almost a decade at the Seattle-based company. While there, he had a lot of different jobs, including heading up Amazon’s foray into the video and DVD businesses. Before Amazon, he worked for a short time at Walt Disney.

He’ll need all the digital and Hollywood mojo he has to get this project flying, I suspect, given that it is an attempt to get two traditional media companies–neither of which is exactly a shrinking violet–to cooperate to try to catch up in the race to distribute video on the Web.

While No-Name is often called a YouTube-killer (and good luck with that, given that the powerhouse MySpace can hardly keep up), that’s not really its aim nor should it be.

The company is probably more like Joost, except without the closed-system approach that effort is using, to find the best ways to put their professional television and film content across the Internet. As I understand it, there will be no new original or user-generated content at first.

As one smart online exec with knowledge of the venture told me, it is much more about compiling a distribution network rather than creating a destination site, which is a good idea, because there are very few of those that succeed.

Since few big Hollywood companies want to rely on YouTube and its owner Google to get their fare out there and reap the ad dollars hoped, it is imperative that they find as many ways as possible to make their content available digitally.

According to News Corp.’s COO Peter Chernin and NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker, the project has 30 employees in new offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and a dozen charter advertisers.

Some possibly worrisome news: It might or might not launch in September, as some had suggested.

“We’ll launch when we’re prepared to launch with a world-class product,” said Chernin on a conference call yesterday.

At least, he didn’t say no.

Please see this disclosure related to me and YouTube (which is owned by Google).


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald