Spark lights a capital fuse

Industryites create financial fund

A team of longtime showbiz industryites, including former Lions Gate, Sony and Turner exec Dennis Miller, has launched a venture capital firm called Spark Capital.

Firm said it will direct its $260 million under management to early-stage investments in “the conflux of media, entertainment and technology.”

Principals of Boston-based Spark include co-founder Todd Dagres, mostly recently of Battery Ventures. Over the last three years, Dagres was on Forbes’ Midas List of venture capitalists who create the most wealth for their investors. He also helped set up Prospect Pictures and Ealing Studios and was, respectively, producer and exec producer of pics “Pretty Persuasion” and “I Never.”

Santo Politi, a former prexy of new media at Blockbuster, was previously a general partner at Charles River Ventures, focused on media and entertainment investment.

Co-founder Paul Conway served as chief financial officer of Charles River.

Bijan Sabet was senior VP of corporate development at GameLogic. He also co-founded and served as head of business development at Moxi Digital, later bought by Digeo. He was involved in WebTV Networks, which was acquired by Microsoft.

Miller has served as exec VP of Lions Gate Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Turner Network Television. Most recently, he was a managing director of Constellation Ventures, where he led investments in programming and distribution.

Miller told Daily Variety that Spark’s partners were intrigued by the early-stage investment possibilities as the showbiz sector undergoes rapid technological transformation.

“There are a number of new areas,” he said, the mobile market prominent among them.

He’s eyeing a rash of new firms that want to track advertising reach as ad models shift, to provide more accountability to advertisers, and others that are trying to transform so-called peer-to-peer networks — huge but largely illegal aggregators of music fans — into legit businesses.

He said Spark is also looking at the evolution of video search engines, as Google and Yahoo! seem to have wrapped up the text search biz.

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