A managing partner at VeronisSuhler Stevenson (VSS), a private equity firm based in New York City, Jeffrey Stevenson has seen many changes in his line of work over the years. Since 1982, he and his firm have been involved in the financial side of the media industry, which has, of course, changed from print and broadcast to digital. His experience during this sea change gives him valuable perspectives and insight.
Consumers in control
One observation Jeffrey Stevenson has made is that in today’s digital media realm, the consumer ultimately makes the choices when it comes to content control. Because content is so readily customized, users can see exactly what they want to see; whereas, in the past, the producers of television shows, magazine articles, etc. were the ones who decided what would actually make it to television screens and magazine racks.
Consequently, Jeffrey Stevenson sees the most valuable media companies in New York and elsewhere as those who offer users a combination of traditional and interactive content. In the past, the name of the game was distribution, but today anyone with an Internet connection enjoys access to the best distribution system in human history. Therefore, the emphasis now must be on content itself because the playing field is level when it comes to showing it to people.
Advertising and fragmentation
Jeffrey Stevenson stresses the importance of advertising as an indicator of whether a company is VSS worth investing in. If a company has an effective marketing team, he believes, then it is better able to weather economic trials and tribulations.
He observes that there has been a great deal of fragmentation within media into traditional and user-driven types of models. He expects this to continue and for no single model to dominate. Because the Internet enables niche companies, ultimately any company that offers content that has a market, even a small one, and is able to advertise itself effectively, will be able to survive. On the financial side of things, he sees a bright future for VSS because it will have plenty of choices.
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