Jack Lawrence Replaces Mitch Berman as CEO of ZillionTV

Rumors circulating at Digital Hollywood today say that Jack Lawrence formerly of Corgi International, and DotCast Inc, has replaced Mitch Berman as CEO of ZillionTV.

Jack Lawrence whose background is as a CFO, and according to his Linked In Profile is “Adept at merging and restructuring diverse organizations to gain efficiencies and drive profitability” , would seem a logical choice to liquidate the relatively small IP, and assets of the company.

A call to the reception desk at ZillionTV confirmed that Jack Lawrence is working at ZillionTV as CEO, and Mitch Berman is now only a board member.

Typically when a company hires a CFO to be their CEO, they are planning to reduce the company to a much smaller team, so that they can package it for sale to another company or to avoid a true fire sale.  Based on the reduction of ZillionTV to about 45 employees a little over a week ago, and the displacing of their CEO it is unlikely ZillionTV will have a road map much past the first of the year that involves delivering a set top box to consumers.

Jack Lawrence is an excellent choice for liquidating a company such as Zillion TV.  DotCast was the technology behind Disney’s MovieBeam offering.  A company not that different on the surface from ZIllionTV.  But unlike DotCast that had some pretty serious IP, browsing ZillionTV’s patent Applications, it would appear that unless Zillion can convince someone to buy their STB’s bevel, or their remote, it is unlikely that they have any licensable IP, to keep them around the way Akimbo has existed for the past 4 years.

A contact at a former ISP partner of ZillionTV said, on the condition of anonymity, that they aren’t moving forward with an agreement with ZillionTV because ZillionTV has to be the sole branding on the set top box according to the terms of ZillionTV’s licensing agreement with the studios.  While this might be an issue for doing deals with larger ISPs in the past, what it does in the near term is prevent Zillion TV from reselling its contracts to another company that wishes to operate under any other name.

UPDATE:

In an interview with the LA Times Mitch Confirmed much of this directly, and through an indirect quote pretty much summed up the state of the company “Berman said the company has morphed from a technology developer into a media and marketing operation, and so there was no work left for some employees to do.”

As a Media and Marketing Operation would mean Content Aggregator, not Set Top Box Company.  Expect to hear some interesting stories about long tail content in the near future.

In conversation at Digital Hollywood today Eric St. Anthony-Pence told a pair of XYHD.tv readers that “[he is] in charge of fixing broken relationships with the big studios”.  Eric currently lists his position as SVP of DVS Intelestream which recently purchased Trinidad Media Services which Eric was CEO of. 

This implies two things.  One that ZillionTV’s relationship with the studios is broken and needs to be fixed. Two that ZillionTV has outsourced studio relations to a third party.  Neither of these are confidence inspiring moves from ZillionTV.  It also begs the question if Eric is working on studio relationships, what is Mitch doing?

XYHD.tv was unable to verify Eric’s current relationship with ZillionTV, but DVS verified he is in their employ.