Month: April 2012

Two distinguished media industry experts join PPC’s Board

Picture Production Company (“PPC”), the international creative production agency, has today announced the appointments of Rod Henwood and Alan Rutherford to the board as non-executive directors.

Mr Henwood joins the board following a strong track record driving innovation in TV and digital media. He was most recently Launch CEO of Pottermore, JK Rowling’s ground-breaking Harry Potter digital venture, prior to which he was CEO of Project Kangaroo, the digital joint venture between BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Immediately before that, between 2005 and 2008, he served on the main board of Channel 4 as New Business Director where he was responsible for the launch of 4oD, the world’s first commercial video on demand service. Mr Henwood was previously CEO then non-executive director of Premium TV, as well as having held leadership roles with NTL, Fox Kids Europe and Carlton. Commenting on his appointment, Mr Henwood said: “PPC already does great work in the TV and digital media markets, and I think there is a fantastic opportunity to continue to build on this and to take a truly market-leading position”.

Mr Rutherford joins the board with a distinguished career in advertising and media, most recently as Chairman or non-executive director of various marketing services companies. Prior to this, Mr Rutherford was CEO of Digitas Global, the world’s largest digital marketing services agency. He has also previously spent eight years at Unilever as Global Head of Media and Marketing and spent twelve years with Ogilvy and Mather, culminating in his appointment as Director of Media, Europe. Mr Rutherford isthe Global President of the International Advertising Association and was named one of the world’s top 15 most influential media people by Media and Marketing magazine. He commented: “PPC is the market leader in its field in the UK, with a great reputation for top quality creative work and rapid delivery. I am looking forward to building on these strengths as the business grows over the next few years.”

PPC is chaired by media industry veteran Stewart Till, former Chair of the UK Film Council. In 2000, he was awarded a CBE for his services to the British Film Industry. Commenting on the appointments, he said:

“We all believe there is a great opportunity to continue growing this business over the next few years. Having successfully launched our LA office last year, the next key initiative was to strengthen our Board so I’m delighted to welcome Rod and Alan, who both bring with them tremendous experience and enthusiasm, as well as very impressive strategic thinking.”

The foundations of strong investor and management relations

By Smedvig Capital CEO Johnny Hewett. Originally posted on

When executed well, the venture capital and management team partnership is a highly productive combination, but it will only deliver when the relationship is a truly harmonious one.

There are some obvious and essential starting points (such as closely aligned goals) but, like most relationships, the foundation of a strong partnership has to be mutual respect and trust. If that exists, it removes what is often the greatest source of antagonism – a VC’s desire to be involved in things it shouldn’t and management’s reluctance to let a VC be involved in things they should.

Clearly trust and respect evolve over time, but many businesses forget in the mass of due diligence, lawyers, corporate financiers and negotiations, to build the relationship. Part of that is simply spending enough time together to build chemistry. Gaining confidence in each other’s capabilities is harder and takes more effort.

The nature of due diligence is such that VCs are more structured about their evaluation of management and often don’t invest if they are not confident of the teams abilities. What is less common is the management team understanding just how diligent they should be when evaluating a potential investor.

Often there is reluctance to question a deal if the price is right, with ‘price’ too narrowly defined in purely financial terms. At Smedvig Capital, we push hard for teams of potential investee companies to spend time with the senior management of our existing or past portfolio companies to understand exactly what they are getting.

A management team should feel confident that their new investors will be genuine partners. An investor that arrives for board meetings, asks if the business is on plan and isn’t seen otherwise doesn’t add much value. Instead, look for an investor that brings extra resource and shares responsibility for achieving goals.

While the management team will have deep insight into their industry, a VC should be well aware of the challenges growing businesses often face and both be able to identify them early, and provide hands on help to deal with them. If the relationship is right, the VC will be the first person a chief executive wants to call with news about the company (good or bad) at any time of day or night.

Strong relationships need multiple points of interaction, with at least 2-4 members of the senior team in regular contact with their investor, both in and out of the boardroom. This helps ensure the VC becomes part of the team, and not just an external investor ‘to be managed’. Critically, it also allows for a more balanced assessment of each other’s capabilities.

Being involved in a growing business is eventful and the relationship between management and their investor won’t always be easy – situations will arise where opinions differ. Being open about conflict (rather than denying it exists) is vital, it allows for open and honest discussion about the reasons each party holds for its opinion. A strong relationship built on trust means a meeting of equals where ideas can be shared, disagreements can be had and ultimately a way forward can be found.

I can’t advocate strongly enough the role of an independent chair appointed jointly by management and their investor. A person with real experience and a track record in the relevant industry adds gravitas and opens doors for the business. This individual should act as a bridge between management and investor, with a foot in each camp to ensure potential conflicts don’t undermine a carefully built relationship.

A fast growing business is an exciting place to be, but the opportunities can come faster than the resources required to take advantage of them. Having a management and VC team working in partnership allows for faster reactions and a better division of tasks. This is a powerful combination that produces powerful results.

Much of this seems straightforward, but executing it day in, day out over months and years is harder than it sounds. That’s why the right ‘price’ for the deal is about so much more than the business valuation.

Global media and finance leaders join Mediamorph Board of Directors

Our newest investment, Mediamorph, has just announced the appointment of four new Board Directors. They are: Robert Toms, managing director at Smedvig Capital; Stewart Till, CBE, CEO of Sonar Entertainment; Wahid Hamid, senior partner and head of portfolio operations and management group at Abraaj Capital; and Michael Huseby, chief financial officer of Barnes & Noble. We led an $8 million funding round alongside Motorola Mobility Ventures in February this year.

Mediamorph are providers of cloud software and managed services to content creators, programmers and distributors. Their clients include Disney, Warner Bros, NBCU, HBO, Starz, Fox Filmed Entertainment and many others.

About The New Board Members

Michael Huseby is the Chief Financial Officer of Barnes & Noble Inc. His career history prior to that includes:

Seven years as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Cablevision Systems Corporation, one of the nation’s leading telecommunications and entertainment companies.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Charter Communications, Inc.
Mr. Huseby has served as a consultant to both Comcast and to Charter as president and founder of MPH Associates, Inc.
Executive Vice President of finance and administration, and Chief Financial Officer at AT&T Broadband until its merger with Comcast.
Ten years as a partner in the professional services firm of Andersen Worldwide (now Accenture), where he had global responsibility for the firm’s cable television practice.

Stewart Till, CBE, a distinguished leader in the international film industry, is the CEO of Sonar Entertainment (formerly, RHI Entertainment), the leader in the production and distribution of groundbreaking movies, miniseries and series for television, and video on demand. He is also the Chairman of Smedvig backed Picture Production Company (PPC) and Chair of Icon Entertainment UK, one of the leading suppliers of theatrical feature films to the independent film market. Prior to that:

Chairman and CEO of United International Pictures and President of International at Polygram.
Senior positions at Universal, BSkyB and CBS/Fox.
Chair of the UK Film Council
Awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to the British Film Industry.
Executive Producer of leading movies, including “House of Sand and Fog,” “The Tempest” and “Jude.”

Wahid Hamid is a Senior Partner and Head of the Portfolio Operations and Management Group at Abraaj Capital, the largest private equity firm in emerging markets, with $7.5 billion assets under management and focused on the growing Middle East, Africa, South and South East Asia, and Latin America regions. Mr. Hamid is responsible for building out the Abraaj’s operational excellence and business acceleration capabilities to drive value creation in portfolio companies. Previously:

An independent advisor to PE firms and a Senior Advisor at The Boston Consulting Group.
Senior Vice President Corporate Strategy and Development at PepsiCo, Inc., where he reported to the CEO and was on the firm’s Executive Management Committee, as well as a member of the Board of Pepsi Americas .
Mr. Hamid also spent 15 years with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where he ultimately served as Senior Partner and Managing Director.
He was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of a successful venture funded IT services business in China.

Robert Toms is a Managing Director at Smedvig Capital, where he has led numerous investments since 2001 including successful recent exits such as and Streetcar, the leading UK car club acquired by Zipcar (Nasdaq; ZIP); Almondy, a Swedish manufacturer of specialty frozen cakes; and Protego Real Estate Investors, a pan-European real estate fund manager. On behalf of Smedvig Capital, he is currently a board member at PPC, a London and Los Angeles based audio-visual creative agency serving the movie industry and a variety of other clients, and is a board member at four other companies – Exchange Group, My Home Move, Tusker (all of the UK) and Selstor (Sweden). He advises two other funds with regard to technology investments, and in this capacity he serves on the boards of 3GSolar (Israel), Clean Marine and Joma (both of Norway). Prior:

He was an executive director at Jardine International Motors, a $4B auto industry group with businesses in Asia, Europe and the US.
An engagement manager with Bain & Company, where he led assignments on strategic, operational and organizational issues for clients in a variety of sectors.