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Serialized-Fiction Startup Serial Box Taps NBCU Cable Exec Jeff Li as COO

Serial Box has hired Jeff Li, a 12-year veteran of NBCUniversal who most recently oversaw business development for USA Network, Syfy and Chiller, as chief operating officer.

Li, based in the serialized-fiction startup’s New York headquarters, reports to co-founder and CEO Molly Barton. Li is tasked with growing Serial Box’s catalog and developing new digital partnerships with film, TV, and digital studios.

“Jeff clearly sees the opportunity to deliver book content in bite-size, smartphone-friendly doses and I couldn’t be happier to announce that he’s accepted the role as our new COO,” said Barton, who founded Serial Box in September 2015 with Julian Yap.

Serial Box describes its model as akin to TV — new “episodes” (aka chapters) of its serialized stories are released every week, in “seasons” that typically run for 10-16 weeks. The first chapter is free; subsequent episodes cost $1.99 each or users can buy a season pass at an average price of $13.99. The episodes also are available in audio format.

As head of ventures at NBCUniversal Entertainment Networks, Li was responsible for launching and growing new businesses for USA, Syfy and Chiller. While at NBCU, he launched Syfy Films and Chiller Films and led a number of digital entertainment initiatives, including running Syfy’s video-game publishing efforts and inking video distribution deals with over-the-top platforms. Li was also responsible for the growth of the networks’ merchandising and book-publishing efforts for franchises like “Sharknado.”

He also served as VP of corporate strategy and development at NBCU and was involved in a variety of M&A, financing, and business-development deals including those related to Hulu; Comcast’s acquisition of NBCU; ShopNBC; and Peacock Equity Fund. Prior to joining NBCU, Li headed business development at cable network startup Casino and Gaming Television, and he worked at Sony Pictures and Ascent Media.

Li commented, “With a unique platform that offers high-quality, dual-format content in a pay-as-you-go model, Serial Box is well-positioned to bring reading and audio entertainment to the masses. Additionally, publishers and studios have a new partner that will extend their content to fresh audiences in innovative ways.”

New York-based Serial Box raised an initial round of $1.6 million last year with investments from Boat Rocker Media and angel investors including Richard Sarnoff, former chairman of Bertlesmann, and Mattias Lundgren, CEO of Sweden’s Word Audio Publishing.

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