If you want any more evidence of Amazon’s ambitions in the digital media space, the latest addition to Amazon’s small board is Blake Krikorian, the co-founder of Sling Media and the inventor of the Slingbox. Krikorian’s current base of operations is id8 Group Holdings, which he has used both to invest in startups like Clicker, sold recently to CBS Interactive (NYSE: CBS), and to develop home automation solutions.
Reached in New York Thursday evening after his first Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) board meeting, Krikorian talked about some of his reasons for joining the board headed by Jeff Bezos. “The combination of Amazon’s proven dedication to being the world’s most customer-centric company and the management team’s passion to continually innovate, makes this a very attractive opportunity.” Krikorian is a longtime Bezos fan.
Amazon hasn’t admitted that it’s near release of a Kindle tablet forked from Android and Krikorian isn’t talking about it either. He should be particularly useful in that area though, as well as the e-tailer’s digital media expansion — including its interest in online video portal Hulu, being shopped around by owners Disney (NYSE: DIS), News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and Providence Equity Partners.
On the tablet side, Krikorian is well versed in iOS and Android and has developed for both. He’s also friends with Andy Rubin, who heads Android for Google (NSDQ: GOOG). When he started developing home automation, he initially planned to use iOS to operate the system in his own home but opted instead for more flexible Android.
As for digital media, Sling Media spent considerable resources developing its own video portal. Krikorian and his brother Jason sold Sling Media in 2007 to Charlie Ergen’s Echostar (NSDQ: SATS) before its split into two companies. The second company, Dish, is one of the companies looking at Hulu. With or without Hulu, Dish already owns Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) and is building a video service that would compete with Amazon Instant Video. Krikorian stayed with Sling Media until early 2009 and knows Ergen well.
As an added bonus of sorts, he’s already familiar with Amazon Prime as a consumer. Amazon Prime is the $79 annual subscription that provides special shipping rates. In the last year, Amazon has added and expanded access to streaming movies and TV shows through Amazon Prime Instant Video and it looks like the service will play a key part in many of its other plans.