Shields shines off Murdoch

Exec leaves ShineVu for Facebook

LONDON — Elisabeth Murdoch and Joanna Shields are two media mavens that like to get things happening — fast.

So when Shields, former CEO of online site Bebo where she pioneered original dramas like “KateModern,” signed on with Murdoch’s global shingle, Shine, to develop a new social media offshoot expectations were high.

But occasionally even Murdoch has a setback — and last week (Variety.com, April 2) it was announced Shields was quitting after less than six months to accept a job with social media site Facebook.

The two women were due to give a joint keynote speech about their planned social media site, ShineVu, at the Mip TV sales mart, which bows in Cannes April 12.

That has been cancelled, but the indefatigable Murdoch maintains ShineVu is still all systems go.

“I will not rest until we make the multiplatform Shine Group a reality,” insisted Murdoch in an internal email to staff informing them of Shields’ decision, adding that the move had followed “much soul searching and lengthy conversations” with “my friend Joanna.”

She added, “I would go as far as to describe what we must become as a ‘multicultural’ creative company as it applies to TV and digital worlds.”

Murdoch sounds typically determined, but with Shields on board as Facebook’s VP of sales and business development for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the leading brand in social media looks unlikely to start going backwards.

Shields, who set up the sale of Bebo to AOL for a jaw-tingling $850 million, belongs to that highly sought-after crowd who have successfully monetized the digital space.

At Bebo, she negotiated lucrative sponsorship deals with blue chip firms including MSN and Disney that enabled the site to fund original teen-friendly fare, such as “KateModern.”

Once Shields stopped running Bebo, the site began to lose its mojo.

Quite what she and Murdoch were cooking up at Shine is anyone’s guess. But the chances are that with Shields onboard, potential advertisers would have taken it very seriously.

It is unclear whether Murdoch intends to replace her, but the good news for Shine is that Shields remains non-exec chairman of ShineVu.

Whatever Shine’s many strengths — the shingle is now Blighty’s biggest super indie — the task of transferring that success to a world of network connections and mobile apps looks tougher that it did before Shields jumped ship.

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