Executives from Sony, JibJab and Rovio were on hand for the Silicon Beach event this week, which started with a venture competition Wednesday and capped off with addresses from various leaders in the industry Thursday.
Notable speakers for the events included Andrew Stalbow, North American general manager of “Angry Birds” creator Rovio, as well as Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, co-founders of JibJab.com, who also unveiled their new company StoryBots at the event.
Evan and Greg Spiridellis focused on topics ranging from the changing dynamics of content production to changing business models to their new venture StoryBots.com.
The Spiridellis brothers made the point that barriers to entry for the entertainment industry have been removed.
“The cost of producing entertainment has plummeted,” the Spiridellis brothers said. “Capital is no longer a barrier to producing entertainment, it’s all about talent.”
They also discussed the need to recognize failing business models and to move to more successful ones as a result.
The brothers called JibJab’s former business model, which focused on producing political parodies, “a crappy business model.”
They discussed how their company moved from their first business model, to one that focused on ecards.
“You make great content around life events,” said the Spiridellis brothers, “and that’s what we do now.”
Their address culminated with the introduction of their new venture, StoryBots.com, a website aimed at teaching toddlers basic education.
The Spiridellis brothers said the reason for creating StoryBots came down to a question: “If Sesame Street were created today, what [would] it be like?”
Stalbow’s address focused on topics ranging from the changing dynamics in the interaction of content delivery and production to the company’s business philosophy.
Stalbow discussed the increasing difficulty of finding a business model for entertainment.
“It’s hard to build a business model around scarcity,” Stalbow said. “That’s what [Hollywood] fights so hard to protect.”
Speaking on content delivery and production, Stalbow pointed out the two views a business can take on app production.
“An app is just a piece of software, so it can be anything we want it to be,” Stalbow said. “We treat our apps as a service rather than a product, so we are constantly updating.”
Another issue Stalbow said he deals with in his business is the pricing of apps.
“Our goal on pricing is to make it a no-brainer for people,” Stalbow said. “We’ve always put our brand and our fans first.”
The event drew positive reviews from those in attendance; Sergio Pedroza, a senior majoring in architecture and business administration, said he saw the event as a great opportunity for networking and learning.
“This event has created incredible networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. It allows one to get a good perspective on technology, business models and public relations,” Pedroza said.
Silicon Beach at USC was hosted by the Institute for Communication Technology Management in partnership with USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.