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Joint Venture M-Go on the Move from Valley

Katz Online entertainment platform M-GO is ready for so much growth it has outgrown its Valley roots. The startup, which has ambitions to take on Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others, is leaving Burbank for Culver City next month – not long after securing additional content. The company is a joint venture between Technicolor SA and Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc. It employs more than 100 people, with most of them at its headquarters in Burbank and a smaller contingent in San Diego. The company has signed agreements for access to the film libraries of Paramount Pictures, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment and of course DreamWorks. Last week M-GO announced its biggest deal yet with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which will give M-GO users access to 15,000 films and TV episodes, including contemporary hits such as “Hunger Games,” the Twilight movie series, and the cable TV show “Mad Men.” Stacy Katz, vice president of strategic communications for M-GO, said the company is growing and plans to hire software writers and engineers. But to accommodate the growth, the company will require more space than is available at its current address at 250 E. Olive Ave. “We are consolidating and moving to Culver City in the next month or so,” she said. “Some of the people from San Diego will come up to the new offices.” M-GO’s roots are in the Valley. Katz said much of the technology behind the platform came from Technicolor, the film processor now headquartered in Paris but with large operations in Burbank. Technicolor performed much of the backend work on LoveFilm International Ltd., one of the first movie download services. The other part-owner, DreamWorks, is in Glendale and contributed industry expertise to the venture. M-GO Chief Executive John Batter was previously head of production at DreamWorks, and DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg sits on M-GO’s board. Both Technicolor and DreamWorks contributed money to the startup, but Katz declined to give specifics. The M-GO system allows consumers to connect and watch video on their TV, desktop computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Payment is per view and varies from 99 cents up to $4.99, in line with what competitors charge. Marty Shindler, owner of Encino entertainment technology consulting firm Shindler Perspective, said M-GO’s biggest challenge is marketing, especially in a sector with formidable competition from household names such as Netflix. “I’m familiar with M-GO because that’s my job, but the average guy on the street isn’t yet. They need to publicize it,” he said. Katz said M-GO plans to distinguish itself from the competition by offering a service, rather than just a store. For example, it employs former video-store clerks to help customers choose a movie online or through a 24-hour phone line. The company is planning a major marketing and publicity campaign later this year. Drew Sugars, a Burbank city spokesman, said entertainment is a fluid business, and it’s common for startups and spinoffs to relocate. In the case of M-GO, its parent company is much more important to the Burbank economy and he doesn’t expect the exit of M-GO will have a large impact. “If they are tied to Technicolor, then we want to see Technicolor succeed,” Sugars said. “If you start a business and it grows so fast you have to find more space, that’s great. We want to see businesses grow in Burbank.”

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.
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