The proposed technology-entertainment nexus will kick off with a "VIP event" on Jan. 23 at the Ovitz-backed sushi restaurant Hamasaku. Among the list of attendees are Hale Boggs of high-powered law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; William Quigley, managing director of Santa Monica Internet VC firm Clearstone Venture Partners; and Jeff Yapp, executive VP at MTV Networks.
Dealmaker Media L.A. is the latest in a string of attempts to link up Hollywood's entertainment industry with the technology world of Silicon Valley South, as some have dubbed the Southern California high-tech scene. Those attempts have met with mixed success.
"L.A. is now 2nd in the nation in technology investment to Silicon Valley," reads the invitation to the Jan. 23 event. "But unlike Silicon Valley, we simply don't have the community and cohesion that has churned out some of the most prolific technology companies in the world."
That lack of community and cohesion is due, in part, to the fact that technology entrepreneurs tend to eschew both the trappings and the cutthroat business culture of Hollywood. That culture is epitomized by Ovitz, whose run as "the most powerful man in Hollywood" culminated with his reign at the top of Creative Artists Agency. In 1995 Ovitz left CAA to take over as president of the Walt Disney Co., where he lasted only 16 months. His subsequent career has been marked by fractured friendships and bitter litigation.
Dealmaker Media, founded in 2000 by Debbie Landa, a former business development and public relations executive, has focused on conferences and networking events for entrepreneurs and investors. The new Dealmaker Media L.A. is its most ambitious and high-profile effort to date to create a new symbiosis among high-tech startups, investors, and Hollywood players.
Not everyone is enthusiastic. "You have to wonder if these prospective partners know that most of Ovitz's past partners from Hollywood, Broadway, Wall Street, Madison Avenue and sports (to name just a few areas) despise him now," writes Deadline Hollywood Daily blogger Nikki Finke. "Or that billionaire Ron Burkle is suing Ovitz for refusing to live up to his financial obligations in various Internet ventures."
Lawyers for Burkle and Ovitz are scheduled to meet in court in February, seeking to dismiss opposing lawsuits over alleged verbal agreements to invest together in Internet startups Checkout.com and TalkCity.com.