Lovefilm International has a complex history, but having been a founding member of one of the three core businesses that make up the family, and now a board member for Index, I have more than a passing interest in this deal and wanted to take a moment to post some thoughts and thanks.
Since 2003, Lovefilm has been built into Europe’s largest online home entertainment subscription service. This is a company which has built a great brand delivering a much loved consumer service of movies, TV and games to 1.5m subscribers across the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
Under the great management team of Simon Calver, Lovefilm has built a substantial business with over $100m in revenues and significant operating profits. To do this anywhere is great, to do this in the UK and Europe, makes Lovefilm a real success story.
But like any success, Lovefilm has many fathers. I don’t say this in passing, I say this because (1) it’s true and (2) I believe it. Lovefilm like most sucessful businesses is truly the product of many people’s work, energy and effort not just the few.
We have been fed, and fall too often, for the myth of the founder or the celebrity CEO. But the reality - as even businesses like Apple, Google and Facebook show - is that any successful business has many fathers, mothers, daughters and sons, let alone relatives. Great companies are inspired by great leaders but are run by great teams and staffed by great people.
So in the spirit of the great European movie that Lovefilm has become, I wanted to take a minute to roll the credits and acknowledge some of the cast of characters who have been a part of building the foundations of Lovefilm.
I also wanted to point out some of the movies some of the cast have gone on to star in, because as both Lovefilm and Skype are starting to show in Europe (as in the US) - ecosystems get built not just by great companies, but by what the people involved in them go on to do after and after and after.
Roll the credits....
Currently Starring in Leading Roles:
- Fern O’Sullivan (from Screenselect)
- Simon Morris (from Lovefilm.com)
- Simon Calver (from Video Island)
- Jim Buckle
- Andrew Ground
- Mike Blakemore
- David Martin
- Leslie MacKenzie
- Simon Waldman
- Charles Gurassa
These are the folks that everyday are leading the teams who deliver amazing service and value to Lovefilm’s customers - some of them like Fern and Simon Morris have been involved more or less since inception.
I should also mention here Pam Burton, Dave Webb, Mark Durnford, Darren Bignell and Mehul Hirani who have all played core roles since 2003 and 2004 - and continue to do so.
- Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain (now Zoopla), William Reeve (now DFJ Esprit amongst other things) and Fern O'Sullivan (then Wake) from Screenselect
- Graham Bosher (now Graze), Mark Livingstone (now Touch Local) and Simon Morris from Lovefilm.com
- Mat Taylor (now BT), Dave Webb and Pam Burton (still at Lovefilm) from Video Island
While I never worked with Graham, Mark and Simon we competed against them - they were fierce, great competition and it was great to finally all be on the same team. Alex, Simon and William are all people I learnt a tonne from - lessons I still carry with me, they are all world-class at what they do. Mat, Dave and Pam - what can I say, other than memories of the first four of us in a basement in Kings Cross getting ready to turn on Tesco’s is still clear as a bell. Thanks to you all.
- Arts Alliance: Adam Valkin (Accel), Nish Bhutani (Saffronart) and Thomas Hoegh
- Benchmark (Balderton): then George Coelho (Good Energies) and Jerome Misso, now plus Dharmash Mistry
- Cazenove (DFJ Esprit): Simon Cook, now plus Stuart Chapman
- Index: Danny Rimer (who mentored me as a CEO and inspired me to become an investor) - so now plus me!
- Simon Murdoch
- Redbus: Anthony Ceravolo, Simon Franks
- TAG: Robin Klein
Too many entrepreneurial lessons learned from this group - I’ll save that for another post. But with Robin, of course and with Dani, Mel & Hanna, I leave the best to last - luckily I had to follow alphabetical order :)