Blog Post

Hollywood agency ICM revamps digital unit, focuses on startups

After restructuring itself as a partnership just two weeks ago, Hollywood talent agency ICM made recreating its digital operation its top priority Monday, announcing the hire of Warner Bros. executive Keyvan Peymani.

Heading what the firm has rechristened as its digital strategy division, Peymani will replace George Ruiz as International Creative Management’s top digital executive.

Insiders say the company is looking to diversify from its past strategy of merely representing top digital talent. Talent representation, after all, is a great commissions business for $20 million-a-film actors but isn’t quite as attractive when representing those collecting YouTube-level paychecks.

Like other Hollywood agencies including Creative Artist Agency (CAA), William Morris Endeavor and United Talent Agency, ICM Partners is trying to get into the more profitable business of incubating tech-media startups.

CAA, for example, is a key investor for WhoSay, which acts as a kind of TwitPic for celebrities.

Also read: Viacom to sell ads on WhoSay, TwitPic to the stars

At Warner Bros., Peymani served as VP of direct to consumer business planning and operations, leading initiatives such as the acquisition of movie site Flixter, the streaming of films through Facebook, and the establishment of an on-demand DVD stamping business.

ICM plans to hire at least one more executive under his watch.

Ruiz, meanwhile, operated under a head of business affairs title and had been with the agency since 2007 after also serving on the studio side. He’s credited with bringing in online celebrity clients such as Felicia Day, a former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress who ended up with a cross-platform deal to create the video series The Guild for Microsoft in 2008.

ICM said he’ll continue to represent his clients, and on his personal Twitter account Monday, Ruiz said he’d have something “exciting” to announce soon.

For ICM, the move comes on the heels of the May 23 announcement that 29 of the company’s agents bought out private equity stakeholders Rizvi Traverse and chairman Jeff Berg to turn the business into a partnership.

In November 2008, GigaOm staff writer Janko Roettgers interviewed Ruiz regarding ICM’s digital strategy heading into the economic downturn:

[ustream id=861677 hwaccel=0 width=608 height=368]