That’s according to David Alpert, one of Skybound’s partners along with Robert Kirkman and Jon Goldman, who is leading GammaRay as CEO. “It’s hard to find a place for intellectual discussion that’s not driven by lowest-common-denominator editorial,” Alpert said.
While it’s housed at Skybound, GammaRay is backed by three other investment partners: David Ellison’s Skydance Media, Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Ventures and C Ventures, a VC firm co-founded by entrepreneur Adrian Cheng and veteran investor Clive Ng. Alpert declined to disclose how much funding GammaRay has raised.
The concept for GammaRay, which had been brewing at Skybound for some time, is to provide a fan-focused brand “from the perspective of celebrating how artists make things,” Alpert said. “It’s the discussion in the back of the comics shop, but doing it in an intelligent way.”
The venture currently has 20 full-time staff, who are producing short-form video and articles. Over the last several months, GammaRay has quietly launched content on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. This week, it’s going to officially launch its website (gammaray.tv).
According to Alpert, GammaRay will not just be a shill for Skybound productions like “The Walking Dead” or those of its partners. “It’s going to have its own completely separate identity,” he said. “We’ll cover Skybound stuff, but the vast majority of stuff is fandom at large… We’re covering where fans want to be.”
In addition, GammaRay plans to team up with “high-end users and creators who have existing fanbases” for different shows and features, Alpert said.
Original short-form shows part of GammaRay’s initial launch include:
- “The Fighting Show,” in which a veteran trainer in the world of fighting and stunt work for film and TV walks through techniques and history behind some of the best-known fight scenes and characters (examples: “How Ninja Are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?”; “Ethan Hunt & Jason Bourne: How to Survive A Knife Fight”);
- “Popcraft,” profiling and celebrating fandom artists ranging from creators of portraits of famous anime characters to sculpting busts of Chewbacca (e.g., “Ever Wondered What A Human Shark Would Look Like?”); and
- “The List Show,” a weekly fan-pop list show with “just enough insight to get you inspired while keeping it short and sweet” (e.g., “Top 10 Best Spy Films Ever,” “Top 10 Best Space Operas”).
As for GammaRay’s monetization plan, Alpert is focusing on leveraging Skybound’s resources to potentially develop film, television, and video games based on the GammaRay programming. There also are opportunities for GammaRay to launch merchandise, tabletop games, podcasts and “any kind of consumable media,” Alpert said, and it will have a presence at all major conventions that cover fandom.
While he has the title of CEO at GammaRay, Alpert will still continue to jointly run Skybound, including helping to oversee the company’s slate of originals for Amazon Studios under “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman’s overall deal with Amazon.
GammaRay’s management team includes COO Do Duong, who hails from Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital hip-hop entertainment brand where he was VP of business operations and analytics. “Even in stealth mode over the past few months, we’ve been adding hundreds of thousands, and soon millions, of users and video views and see a clear path to overtaking the current leaders in our category,” Duong said.
Three other execs on the GammaRay team are Michael Cruz, director of digital programming, who oversees content on owned-and-operated platforms; Rachel Skidmore, VP of emerging platforms; and Rachel Meskin, director of editorial video and social, who previously was fan-engagement director at Nickelodeon.
GammaRay is based in Skybound’s L.A. offices “until such time we need to expand,” Alpert said.
As part of its official unveiling, Skybound provided canned remarks from its investment partners praising the venture:
- Jesse Sisgold, president and COO Skydance: “Skybound is known for producing highly entertaining content that captures the zeitgeist and creates a devoted fanbase. We’re thrilled to be able to partner with them on GammaRay, which takes content development to the next level, all in service to and for the fans.”
- Allen DeBevoise, Third Wave managing director: “Third Wave Digital is excited to be partnering with Skybound Entertainment to create the next generation multiplatform consumer video brand for genre fan culture as best expressed via comic books, movies, episodic television and video games. The partners at Skybound will leverage their deep expertise, passion and relationships to build a world-class consumer brand in this the most engaging of all categories across short form, long form and interactive genres.”
- Clive Ng, C Ventures co-founder: “In the realm of content creation, Skybound and GammaRay are at a unique position to build experiences for and connect with the hundreds of millions of pop-culture fans worldwide. We’re thrilled about GammaRay’s launch, which will benefit from C Ventures’ global cultural ecosystem for the millennials and Generation Z.”