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Akimbo Ties Into Tinseltown

The broadband video aggregator Akimbo Systems has brought in a well connected Hollywood guy as CEO.

Incoming CEO Tom Frank, 43, comes from previous roles at Dick Clark Productions, the Leo Burnett Company, and as COO at RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK), where he helped build that company's streaming video business. Most recently he ran White Dog Media, a consulting business for emerging Internet media companies.

Perhaps the biggest thing Frank brings to Akimbo is his little black book. He has extensive contacts among large video content owners in Los Angeles. Frank tells Light Reading those relationships will help Akimbo see more clearly into those companies' digital content agendas. (See Internet Video Heads Mainstream.)

"Seeing the chance to bring in somebody like Tom, who has content licensing experience and Hollywood experience working distribution companies and media companies and advertising companies -- all things not in my background -- I jumped at that opportunity," outgoing CEO Josh Goldman says of Frank.

Goldman, 41, founded Akimbo in 2004 with Jim Funk (current marketing director) and Steve Shannon (now at TV Guide). Goldman says he has no plans of starting any new ventures yet, and will remain on the board of directors at Akimbo.

Akimbo, with roughly 13,000 video titles, specializes in off-prime-time content like older TV shows and movies, and niche programming like instructional videos and documentaries. The service provides viewers a program guide, video search, and video previews to help them find things to watch.

Akimbo's biggest content deal is with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). The company contributes VOD content to ATT's Homezone hybrid satellite/Internet service. (See Akimbo Catches Up to AT&T.)

Frank might also find ways to bring more advertising money Akimbo's way. Frank says advertisers have yet to land on the optimal way to deliver ads around broadband video content. Pre-roll? Post-roll? No-roll? Banners? Product placement? "It's going to be a focus for me to take a look at all of Akimbo's assets and, either through a proprietary or advantaged way, be a part of that solution," Frank says.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Akimbo has raised $27.5 million in three rounds of funding since 2004. AT&T is one of its major investors, along with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and top-shelf venture capital firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers . (See AT&T, Cisco Elbow Into Akimbo.)

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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