Speaking at the Variety Big Data Summit


My career in technology has taken me to some interesting places over the last 10+ years: St. Louis (less interesting), Mountain View, Jerusalem, New York, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills, but this last trip to Beverly Hills was the first time I got to speak at a Hollywood event. I recently had the opportunity to be on a panel at the Variety Big Data Summit, and it was…well, I’m pretty sure I’m officially a fancy media executive now.


The overall goal of the summit was to discuss how data can and should be effecting the business of Hollywood. My panel was entitled “The Transformation of Content Through Data”…

The transition to digital production has brought wholly new processes in storytelling, often involving formulas and equations as much as scripts and story boards. How are technology chiefs managing the digital transformation to ensure increasingly complicated assets are successfully produced and distributed across platforms? What are differences between managing data in animation versus live action production and distribution? Top studio and platform technology leaders will explore how they ensuring a great digital storytelling experience for audiences.


Jay Tucker, Chief Marketing Officer, Institute for Communication Technology Management, USC > Marshall School of Business


Mike Flynn, CTO, Collective Digital Studio

Aaron Sloman, CTO, OWNZONES

Paul Davidson, SVP Film & TV, The Orchard

Susan Cheng, Senior Vice President, Content Management & Distribution, Warner Bros.

Kaliel Roberts, SVP Product and Technology, Digital Media, Discovery Communications

Matt Kautz, Head of Business Intelligence, Analytics and Research for Machinima.

…and I think it went well, but who can tell on panels with 6 people, one of which was an event sponsor, on the stage talking about a wide ranging topic in under 45 minutes. In short, the answers our panel came up with where the same answers almost all the panels decided on: Collect data; Experiment; Collect more data; Experiment again; Repeat forever for every different content target.

I could have done the usual speaker thing and came and went, but I attended the whole summit and it was worthwhile. Eli Roth was impressive, as were Philippe Dauman and Irwin Gotlieb. Listening to them speak about data from the Entertainment executive (and in Roth’s case, a director) side was helpful to bridge that gap between my technical Bay Area world, and my fellow executives in LA. Simply being able to phrase the opportunities companies like Collective Digital Studio have right now in regards to technology in industry relate-able terms makes my job easier.

Cocktail hour and group networking lunches aren’t my thing (though I’ve been working on that), but speaking to the group, either independently or on a panel, is always fun and helps those networking lunches go a little more smoothly. My goal was to speak a few industry (either entertainment or tech) events year, and I’ll mark a panel as a 75% completion (I have one more panel coming up in a couple of weeks). I would still love to present at a tech conference, so maybe that’s in the cards for 2016 along with writing in this space about my thoughts on technology and the entertainment space. It’s different than Punching Kitty articles, but maybe I’ll work in a few “Breakin 2” references for old time sake.