Richard Wolpert already had two jobs — chief strategy officer for RealNetworks (RNWK) and consulting for VC heavyweight Accel — but he’s just added a third. He’ll be running yet another “Silicon Valley meets Hollywood” venture, this one a joint fund between William Morris Agency, Accel Partners and Venrock, with AT&T (T) coming aboard as a limited partner.
Richard talked to us about what he’s interested in buying, what’s going to happen to the dozens of crappy video sites floating around the Web, and why this round of tech+media tie-ups won’t be like the failed Web 1.0 experiments.
Silicon Alley Insider: There’s a lot of talk about fusing Hollywood talent with Silicon Valley money and tech again. Why should it work this time around?
Wolpert: We saw a lot of Hollywood meets Silicon Valley back in 1.0, and a lot of the things what we’re going to be be focused on were around then, too. But a lot of that was too early. Digital media and entertainment on the Web are ready now.
And keep in mind that this is not a huge $100 million fund that’s looking to invest in $5 million Series A-type deals. This is really filling a gap that existed for seed stage financing in L.A. – there’s a trememdnous opportunity for companies here that are looking to raise a million or less.
SAI: Are you mostly interested in pure content plays?
Wolpert: They don’t have to be. They could also be Internet consumer offerings. William Morris is a partner, but don’t read into that that it has to be entertainment.
SAI: What aren’t you interested in?.
Wolpert: Without dissing a specific category, we’re going to be looking at investments that we think are going to be in hot, growing sectors in the next 18 months. And those tend not to be sectors that were hot a year ago.
SAI: OK, since you won’t diss anyone, tell us what you do like.
Wolpert: I think gaming still has a lot of potential. I think social networks are a little overexposed right now, but i think there will be some derivative services for them will be coming out in the next year or so that will be interesting.
SAI: One of the Accel portfolio companies you’ve been watching is online video startup Metacafe. What’s going to happen to that one, and all of the other video portals that aren’t YouTube?
Wolpert: There certainly seems to be consolidation coming for online video portals. Particularly those sites that have never reached a broad audience on their own. I do think there are some interesting opportunities for others, and I think Metacafe is one of them. But there are probably 20 to 50 sites that have a million users or less, and they’ve been that way for a year. They’re clearly they’re going to have to do something. A rollup might be interesting.
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