ICM, Manatt and Originate Form Incubator for Media and Tech Startups

ICM Partners, software developer Originate and law and consulting firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips have created O Labs, a joint venture designed to fund and develop media and technology startups by pooling resources from each partner.

L.A.-based O Labs expects to launch three to five companies per year. The JV is led by CEO Matthew Pierce, previously Originate’s VP of strategy.

“The idea is, we’re bringing together three very well-respected and high-end service companies to build and operates companies that can address the needs of enterprise,” Pierce said.

O Labs, which has been in the works for 18 months, will have access to some 120 product designers and developers from Originate, legal and business experts from Manatt, and industry relationships and insights from ICM agents. The venture has a budget for the first two years, and each partner has committed personnel to O Labs.

There’s no preset amount of money set aside for the startups that O Labs will be incubating, and each project will have its own unique requirements, Pierce said. “We want to make sure we are investing in ideas we can put a lot of resources into,” he said. “It’s not, ‘We’ll give you $30,000 and you can come sit in our office.’ It’s not a cookie-cutter approach.”

O Labs’ first portfolio company, Versus, has developed a platform that lets videogamers wager real money in online tournaments. The startup, co-founded with game developer Brandii Grace, epitomizes the disciplines that each of the partners brings to bear, according to Pierce. The software is built by Originate, Manatt provides legal counsel in gaming, advertising, intellectual property and sweepstakes law, and ICM contributes expertise in brand positioning, sales and marketing.

“The first question a potential acquirer is going to ask about this is, How is this legal?” said Sarah Chambless, an associate in Manatt’s corporate and finance practice. With Versus, “we literally had to build the site so it was legally compliant for each jurisdiction, instead of doing that after the fact.”

O Labs will own a “very large position” in each portfolio company, Pierce said, with the exit strategy varying. “We’ve all got fairly solid relationships with outside investors,” he said. “We have a history of doing M&A and financing.”

The JV’s investment committee comprises Pierce, Manatt partner T. Hale Boggs, Originate CFO Jeff Scheinrock and Keyvan Peymani, ICM’s managing director of ICM’s digital strategy division. The venture currently is evaluating startup ideas in areas including short-form content, over-the-top video and financial services.

“The media industry, like many others, is facing fundamental changes from every conceivable angle,” Peymani said in a statement. “For several years, ICM Partners has been partnering with the top entrepreneurs, VCs and startup communities around the world to help build world-class companies that will shape our industry. This new model is another step forward.”

More Digital

  • Doug Scott - Twitch

    Twitch Recruits Zynga's Doug Scott as Chief Marketing Officer

    Doug Scott is leaving as game company Zynga’s marketing boss to become Twitch’s CMO. Scott assumes the CMO role at Twitch after previous chief marketing officer Kate Jhaveri exited this summer to become the NBA’s top marketing exec. News of Scott’s hire comes less than a month after Twitch launched a redesigned logo and site, [...]

  • Carter Hansen - VidCon

    VidCon Hires Ex-AwesomenessTV Exec Carter Hansen to Head Conference Programming

    VidCon hired Carter Hansen, a founding executive at AwesomenessTV, as VP of programming to oversee conference programming and content for the internet-video events producer. In the newly created role, Hansen reports to VidCon GM Jim Louderback and will be based in Viacom’s Hollywood office. As part of overseeing programming worldwide for VidCon’s community, creator and [...]

  • The Boys Amazon Prime

    Nielsen Adds Amazon Prime Video to SVOD Measurement, With Limitations

    After two years of measuring Netflix viewing, Nielsen has now added Amazon Prime Video to the mix of subscription-streaming services it tracks — and with the same set of limitations. Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings originally launched in October 2017 with Netflix. According to the research firm, the addition of Amazon Prime Video measurement will let [...]

  • Gavel Court Placeholder

    Netflix Movie Scammer Admits to Defrauding Investors Out of $14 Million

    A California man has admitted to defrauding investment groups — nabbing $14 million — by falsely claiming the money would be used to produce a feature film for Netflix. On Oct. 18, Adam Joiner, 41, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court, according to federal authorities. [...]

  • netflix debt

    Netflix to Raise Another $2 Billion Through Debt to Fund Massive Content Spending

    Netflix, burning boatloads of cash with a projected $15 billion content budget for 2019, is adding to its debt load once again. On Monday (Oct. 21), Netflix announced plans to offer approximately $2.0 billion aggregate principal amount of junk bonds, in both U.S dollar and euro denominations. As of Sept. 30, Netflix reported $12.43 billion [...]

  • Bristol, CT - July 26, 2018

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content