View Full Version : Eisner Launches Doomed Web Company

03-12-2007, 12:43 PM
From Business 2.0 Beta:

March 12, 2007 Posted by Owen Thomas on March 12, 2007 at 8:45 AM in Digital Media

Ex-Disney Chief Launches Surely-Doomed Web Effort

Michael Eisner is launching a Web-TV production company, according to USA Today. This should be eminently watchable - the trainwreck of his latest Internet business, that is, not the shows it puts out.

You've got to understand my skepticism: When he was CEO of Disney (DIS), Eisner never had an easy time with the Web, losing hundreds of millions of dollars on the company's ill-fated Go Network before shutting it down in 2002.

One would like to be able to say that Eisner's new company, Vuguru, whose launch he's announcing today, shows that he's learned from his mistakes. But no.

You just have to read a few sentences from the USA Today piece to see why:

"Vuguru, that will acquire and develop slickly written, produced and acted Web video. Vuguru also today will unveil its first show: a serialized mystery called Prom Queen that will roll out over 80 days beginning April 2 with daily installments lasting 90 seconds. It's co-produced with production company Big Fantastic, in a deal brokered by United Talent Agency."

Clearly, Eisner hasn't spent much time surfing YouTube. What kids are going for isn't "slickly written produced and acted Web video": It's either clips from shows they're already familiar with, or raw, first-person confessional material from their peers. In either case, YouTube's not paying much for the video.

Vuguru, on the other hand, has just launched and it's already got a nest of expensive Hollywood mouths to feed - a production company, a talent agency, actors, writers, and so on.

So here's the high concept of Vuguru, in short: The small, niche audience of the Web meets the cost structure of Hollywood. I love it! It may not succeed in making any money, but the business spectacle can't fail to entertain.

03-12-2007, 12:52 PM
Eisner's Tornante Launches Studio Targeting Web

March 12, 2007: 11:57 AM EST


Tornante Co., the private investment company of former Walt Disney Co. (DIS) Chief Executive Michael Eisner, Monday said it launched Vuguru, an independent studio to produce and distribute original content for the Internet and emerging digital platforms.

"Vuguru's goal is to be the leader in producing high-quality, story-driven content for the Internet that up until now could only be found in movie theaters or on television," Tornante said.

"In the past few years, the development of exciting and innovative digital media platforms and technologies has outpaced the creation of truly great content," Eisner said. "Vuguru will produce and showcase original and third- party content in all genres and formats to meet the new demands of the evolving media landscape."

The announcement comes a week after Tornante agreed to buy baseball card maker Topps Co. (TOPP) for about $385 million.

Eisner founded Tornante - which means "hairpin turn" in Italian - after he left Disney in 2005. The private investment company focuses on "opportunities in the media and entertainment space," its Web site says.

Tornante's more recent investments include an Internet video site and a DVD maker. Last April, Tornante joined a group of investors that plunked down $12.5 million into Veoh Networks Inc., a video site that competes with YouTube, owned by Google Inc. (GOOG). In June, Tornante acquired Team Baby Entertainment, which makes sports DVDs for children.

Vuguru's first production, titled "Prom Queen," is a scripted, serialized mystery about the final two months of the high school year leading up to prom night. The program's story is told over 80 episodes - each running 90 seconds long.

Viewers will able to watch Prom Queen online on Veoh.com, YouTube.com, ELLEgirl.com, and other sites. Prom Queen will also be distributed on handheld devices and to the living room, the company said.

-Mike Barris, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5658

Another Voice
03-12-2007, 01:34 PM
The small, niche audience of the Web meets the cost structure of Hollywood.

This is exactly how he destroyed Disney - he took a small niche company (the maker of high quality, family entertainment in several media) and saddled it with the heaping costs of a maintstream studio, a failed television network and a corporate culture that valued celebrity status on Wall Street over the quality of product created.

03-12-2007, 01:36 PM
I'm just glad he's doing it for somebody else now.

03-13-2007, 03:08 PM
Who has the attention span to watch 90 second clips spread over 80 days? Yikes...

03-13-2007, 06:08 PM
Who has the attention span to watch 90 second clips


Wow - no wonder some people don't enjoy 90 minute feature films...
Ok, I know I misquoted, but my attention drifted after reading the first part of the sentance...