CBS hires banker to head digital division

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US entertainment group CBS has appointed veteran Silicon Valley banker Quincy Smith as head of its renamed digital division, CBS Interactive. Smith replaces Larry Kramer in another senior reshuffle of media groups controlled by Sumner Redstone.

Earlier this year billionaire Redstone fired Viacom chief Tom Freston amid reports that Redstone was furious that Viacom had missed out in the opportunity to own a major social networking site such as MySpace (acquired by rival News Corporation last year for $580m). Freston was replaced by private equity investor Philippe Dauman.

Kramer founded financial web site MarketWatch.com, and later sold it to Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones for $528m. He was hired by CBS CEO Les Moonves last year.

Smith comes to CBS from media investment bank Allen & Company, where he was involved with several Google transactions, Advertising.com's sale to AOL, the sale of del.icio.us to Yahoo!, Neopets' to Viacom, Loudeye to Nokia and CNET's acquisition of Webshots. Before Allen & Company Smith was a founding Partner of venture capital firm The Barksdale Group, and previously spent five years at Netscape where he was involved in the company's sale to AOL. He is a former investment banker at Morgan Stanley.

Smith will oversee CBS' interactive strategy across all platforms, reporting directly to Moonves. Reporting to Smith will be the group's web sites CBS SportsLine.com, CBSNews.com and CBS.com, as well as Innertube, the new site offering original programming as well as the streaming of CBS's most popular series.

CBS said Smith would also "work closely with the company's financial team to identify new businesses that could complement CBS's core assets".

Moonves said the appointment was "particularly significant because it reflects our belief that the future of media lies increasingly in the interactive realm".

He added: "Quincy Smith is one of the smartest, most forward thinking executives working in new media today. He's had his hand in building many of the biggest interactive companies of our time, and his knowledge of this burgeoning landscape is second to none."

Smith said: "The promise of the interactive space lies in its ability to showcase world-class content on a variety of new technologies, and to create new communities that will enable CBS to be closer to and learn more from its audience than ever before.

"With unparalleled reach in television, radio, outdoor and publishing, this company has a unique, built-in advantage as it continues to transition into the interactive future. I share the vision and excitement of Leslie and his team and believe that the opportunities ahead for this company are virtually limitless."

Moonves paid tribute to Kramer, who will continue to advise CBS. "I have no doubt that he will continue to be at the forefront of the new media revolution, and wish him all the best as he embarks on his next chapter of his distinguished career."

Lovelace Consulting  |  07.11.2006

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