Mika Salmi, AtomFilms

Business type: Entertainment Netcaster

Number of Employees: Approximately 135

URL: www.atomfilms.com

Job Title: Founder & CEO

Age: 34

First ‘Net experience: Biz development for RealNetworks in Seattle from 1996-97

Biggest challenge: “Focus. Being a leader brings more opportunities than we have resources for.”

Favorite bookmark: www.news.com

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In the ever-dramatic reality gameshow of doing business on the Web, Mika Salmi is looking like a clear survivor.

Since bowing the short-film-loving AtomFilms (www.atomfilms.com) early last year, the charismatic Finnish-born exec has survived the shutterings of other dot-coms struggling to stay afloat, and has managed to make oft-ignored short films cool among Netizens in the U.S. and in Europe.

Salmi’s secret to success: Stay nimble. “It has been an ongoing challenge to think creatively in business terms,” says Salmi, a former Sony and EMI exec who discovered Nine Inch Nails and the Presidents of the United States of America. “Many times a day, we are inventing our business. There is no road map.

“Since our Web site is only a piece of our business, we prefer not to think of ourselves as just a dot-com. However, our actions and thinking are typically ‘Internet’ and this requires us to move very fast and continually innovate.”

And make money. AtomFilms’ multi-tiered revenue model generates advertising dollars and fees from selling its pics to cable channels, airlines and other dot-coms.

Salmi is now getting AtomFilms into the production game, funding a slate of projects as part of a plan to turn the dot-com into a full-fledged online studio. Company content is also debuting on handheld devices.

Though it already had a deal with Warner Bros.’ Entertaindom.com, which helped attract traffic and revenues, production and content deals with Propaganda, New Line and Paramount could turn the online indie into Hollywood’s dot-com darling, awarding it an immunity idol against its competitors for at least a short time. The deals are a smart move considering Hollywood’s intentions to invade the space.

When it comes to understanding the Web, the traditionally non-tech-savvy Hollywood is “getting it pretty quickly,” Salmi says. “It’s a different medium. It’s not TV and it’s not film. But the opportunity is massive and these people are smart.”

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