Livestream Goes Hollywood, Poaches Ustream Exec

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Livestream is ramping up its efforts to court music labels and Hollywood studios with the opening of a new office in Los Angeles. And the startup’s first hire for the office is new Jeff Varnell, who was poached from Livestream competitor Ustream.

Varnell joins Livestream as its new executive vice president of business development, and will lead the new L.A. office and studio. Also joining him on the west coast is Livestream head of production Otto Cedeno, who is relocating to L.A. to head up operations and production there. In addition, Livestream plans to add three director-level hires to strike partnerships in three main verticals: music, movie studios and brands.

Sound familiar? That’s the same type of template Varnell followed when he led the media team at Ustream as director of business development there. While he was on board, Ustream found some significant traction with studios and brands that wanted to use live events — like streaming red carpet movie premieres — to drive interest in their products. Livestream is hoping that it too can strike similar relationships.

Livestream CEO Max Haot said in a phone interview today that the company wants to ramp up the live streaming and turnkey production services that it offers to media companies. “With these live streaming premieres, it’s usually the same department that is buying pre-roll,” Haot said, “but it’s more effective for [consumers] to watch a 20-minute movie premiere” than to watch a two-minute video trailer.

The strategic initiative comes as Livestream tries to get more aggressive about growing its business. According to Haot, the startup has generated more than $5 million in revenue, and has reached profitability already this year.

Photo of Hollywood sign courtesy of Flickr user Sörn.

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