Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why Buy When You Can Hire? Time Warner Cable Gets a Joost Guy.

What happens to a start-up whose business never materializes? One option is to try to peddle the company based on the value of its human capital–aka the “acqhire.”

We’re seeing lots of that as the last bubble shakes out (see: MySpace and iLike, Facebook and FriendFeed). But that strategy also raises plenty of eyebrows from other buyers, who figure that they’re happy to let a struggling company fold, then pick up the talent piece by piece.

Did that just happen with Joost and Time Warner Cable (TWC)? Looks like it.

The cable provider has snapped up former Joost CTO Jason Gaedtke. The company tells Cable Digital News that Gaedtke will report to Mike Hayashi, the multiple system operator’s executive vice president of advanced engineering.

The assumption is that Gaedtke will be helping the company build out its own version of “TV Everywhere,” the Web-video-for-subscribers scheme that everyone from Comcast (CMCSA) to AT&T (T) is trying out.

Not an earth-shattering hire, but I’m noting it here because prior to Joost’s decision to all-but-pull-the-plug, the start-up was trying to peddle itself to buyers like…Time Warner Cable.

The theory: The Web video company hadn’t been able to generate much business, but it had a lot of smart people who could help, say, a cable company build out its own Web video strategy.

So, given that the Web video industry is in the midst of a long-awaited contraction, is Gaedtke’s hire the kind of thing that could undermine other potential deals? We’ll see.

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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