Cisco Courting Hollywood Content Providers As Next Big Customers

Dan Scheinman, general manager of Cisco’s new media solutions group, is on the acquisition hunt, looking for tools that could help big studios create their own MySpace- and FaceBook-like Web sites.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The man who helped Cisco Systems buy its way into set-top boxes and home gateways is at it again. This time he wants to court Hollywood's content providers as Cisco's next big customers.

Dan Scheinman is a former Cisco general counsel who helped close the acquisition deals for Scientific Atlanta and Linksys. "I said we need to own the link between the network and the home. It is very strategic," said Scheinman who is now general manager of the company's three-month old Media Solutions Group.

In his new role, Scheinman is again on the acquisition hunt, this time looking for tools that could help big studios create their own MySpace and FaceBook Web sites. "We'd like to empower people to find media and communities which is one of the challenges of the era. We will be a software provider" to Hollywood, Scheinman said in a keynote at the Connections conference here Wednesday (May 2).

The Cisco exec criticized Hollywood for failing to come to grips with the new realities of the Internet era. Studios have been setting up new digital divisions, but they do not realize digital media is not a new silo but a fundamental change in their overall businesses, he said.

"Digital is not a new silo. In the not-too-distant future we will not even say 'digital media' we will just say 'media,'" he said.

What content providers most need to do in this new era is find new ways to interact with their audience by building communities. Studios can no longer dole out a dozen movies a year expecting a mass audience will consumer them, he said.

"Creating communities is big for Hollywood because they will tell you what they want," said Scheinman. "I believe LA is seeing the biggest change since the invention of the movie camera," he added.

Scheinman quipped that he envied Rupert Murdoch's decision to acquire MySpace over the course of a weekend with little due diligence. "I wish we could do something like that at Cisco," he said.

His group is just now formulating its plan of attack. He said to expect in about nine months more details on the software and services package Cisco will offer to content providers.

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