David Straus Critical Mass

Withoutabox co-founders David Straus, Joe Neulight and Fred Kramer have launched  Los Angeles-based Critical Mass Studios as a rights-tracking specialist for the entertainment industry.

The venture, which launched several months ago, is the first venture by the trio since selling their company to Amazon.com in 2008.

“Critical Mass Studios is building a new ecosystem around the frictionless management of rights,” said CEO Straus. “Content is being distributed globally on every imaginable platform.  Owners must not only have visibility throughout their entire library, but also be able to track and deliver instantly on all kinds of new deals.”

As part of the launch, Critical Mass purchased RightslineSoftware Inc. for an undisclosed price. RightsLine, which has been under the control of Rob Delf since 2007,  tracks more than 65,000 contracts and is used as a contract management platform for  NBCUniversal, MGM, Fremantle and Samuel French.

Straus told Variety that Critical Mass — which now has 14 employees — will be announcing specifics of other deals shortly.

“This is not a studio in the traditional sense of the word,” he added. “What we are building is a hardcore technology company that is creating an ecosystem for the studios and entertainment industry, one that provides a more efficient and secure way of managing and distributing their rights throughout the content life cycle.”

Delf, who is now president of CMS and CEO of RightsLine, said, “We intend to be among the few enterprises that will emerge at the center of the value chain for rights, serving as the nexus whereby rights holders, licensors, distributors, promoters and brands will communicate and transact.”

Withoutabox is aimed at serving the independent film community. Straus, Neulight and Kramer oversaw the Los Angeles expansion of Amazon-owned IMDb.

Delf sold his software engineering company Tryarc to the Japanese conglomerate NTT Data in 2007.


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