DECA Puts a Fine Point on Web Studios

“Do you know much about the history of studios?” asks DECA CEO Michael Wayne. It’s clearly a lecture he’s teed up before. He gives us a hint: “We’re not a production company. When people say ‘online studio,’ what they’re really referring to is production companies.”

DECA, says Wayne, is a startup out of Los Angeles, and that’s important. It funds online video shows, usually taking a majority equity stake in exchange for setup, infrastructure, and legal services. “I think people in Northern California don’t realize that long before there was venture capital, the Hollywood studio model was venture capital for entertainment.”

So is DECA’s venture capital funding ($5 million from Mayfield Fund, General Catalyst Partners, and Atomico Investments?) essentially a fund of its own to invest in these “digital entertainment properties”? That’s semantics, says Wayne — what’s important is DECA is not a consumer play, but instead an enabler of other people’s projects. (Oh come on, weren’t we just dissecting the finer points of the word “studio”?!)

DECA “combines premium video, social networking, user-generated content and community features to deliver high-quality, interactive entertainment,” says the press release.

Wayne and his team come from Launch (and then Yahoo after it bought Launch) and Sony Pictures. Since starting six months ago and closing its financing in July, the company has grown to seven people. (DECA’s funding had previously been reported by Private Equity Hub under its formal name Digital Entertainment Corporation of America.)

And now the growth is supposed to come from DECA-funded LLCs, says Wayne; at least three are set to launch this fall. The vision sounds nice enough, but we’ve heard barely anything about the actual content yet. Whether or not the shows will be good and/or popular will be DECA’s real tests.

We’re curious about the actual distinctions between all these online video studios, networks, and talent agencies who are professionalizing Internet TV. It’s one of the topics we’ll be addressing at NewTeeVee Live on November 14. Wayne kindly said he’d come up to speak, and we have some other good companies in the space lined up as well — we’ll be releasing a full schedule soon.

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