Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).


Digital Dish

November 2008 Archives

Random Thoughts of Thankfulness

November 26, 2008 10:39 AM

Hooray, a short work week! If that doesn’t start out today’s post on a positive note, I don’t know what will.

Plus it’s Thanksgiving, the national holiday for appreciation (and incredible home cooking a girl in Los Angeles barely gets). I know the economy’s got everybody troubled, but you have to admit there’s still plenty to be thankful for.

Somehow, the show always manages to go on and has since the dawn of time. Plus, we all know that sometimes, the media overhypes things and doesn’t always get the story straight. I wouldn’t be surprised if the down market sparked a mass surge in Internet usage and a little bit of a boom instead of the gloom and doom all are predicting. You never know.

It would certainly make sense, especially since the Web is so low-cost and people have long adopted using it as a form of entertainment.

Studies have been said to show that people would cut their cable service before they drop access to the Web. Maybe the market will see a surge of people online and generate an uptick.

Web TV may have the perfect storm of conditions to expand, strengthen and proliferate. Production costs are less and everybody’s now willing to give a little in return to make money. Online advertising has long needed an overhaul and some careful thought to it—that it’s much harder to make money may prompt just that. And maybe the ability to scale back a little will give companies time to carefully make choices in their online initiatives—for the better.

It may be wishful thinking, I know. But there was a lot of buzz and news this week to be thankful for in the market.

First, Facebook added full-length Web TV shows, mostly streamed via other networks and Hulu. It was coupled with a survey released that said 92% of Web users are using the Internet for entertainment. New video ideas and applications are still in development. TurnHere, an Internet video production and advertising company, announced voiceover video capabilities for its clients.

YouTube held its first live streaming event, and though it got a little battered in the media, I think it was very good for a first-time, relatively targeted Web event.

I read some comparisons of it to MSN Live Earth, which seems a little silly. Didn’t Live Earth have big names like John Mayer and the Dave Matthews Band? You kind of hope that beat out a small San Francisco-based event focusing primarily on “Web celebs.” If anything, YouTube Live is proof that despite there being a tiny appeal of Internet stars, the real draw online is still in marquee stars, and the Internet’s only getting started there.

I’ve felt YouTube has done a nice job strategically so far in adjusting itself for the future. Hulu may be a competitor, but at the end of the day, the Web will be similar to media as we know it: Room for plenty, not just one.

That alone is reason enough to give thanks. Have a good holiday everybody!

Entrepreneurs in the Entertainment World

November 23, 2008 7:09 PM

A friend and I were having a late lunch in Hollywood when this topic came up. Like me, she’s an entrepreneur who has come from another market into television, and we often share the same wounds, scars and elation as we find our way around the industry’s processes.

We both absolutely love it. I’ve never worked in a business so full of cool, creative people. Entertainment’s like the mix of everything Internet and media business combined with what there is to love about being an entrepreneur.

But the one topic that comes up a lot is the sort of expected lack of your involvement in certain areas of your project by people in the business.

For example, if someone was shopping an Internet company for me, we’d have many talks about messaging, why it’s relevant, etc., beforehand. Or, if there was a big meeting with a prospective sponsor, she’d be expected to attend.

In entertainment, it seems that it's common that people hand over their ideas to others.
I don’t mean any one group in the market, but overall.

I know people can become so experienced in their line of work that understanding and adapting ideas comes quick and easy. But it can also have a downside.

It’s not hard to tell or understand an idea. Where it gets tricky is in communicating and understanding why the idea will work or have value.

Everybody has experienced these kinds of situations where things didn’t work out.

It’s been surprising at times find people who are comfortable trying to sell my ideas without ever asking why I think it could be successful, but luckily I have had plenty who have done just fine with the gist of information.

I wonder, though, as more entrepreneurs branch out from the business, and more come into it, is there anything that people should specifically watch for?

That’s going to be the topic of a future post.

Looking for the Right Hands

November 20, 2008 9:06 AM

I’ve talked in the past about the layers in Hollywood, and how hard it can be to do business in the market because of them. I don’t mean at the executive level or the production end (even though the smallest shoot can be a nightmare). Every single person I’ve worked with or met in those places has never been anything but awesome. Thankfully, many are now friends.

In fact, I just shipped a custom gift basket from Dean & Deluca.com to somebody. She’s not in the same market as my show is in, but she’s been a good ally and a friend in the business.

The harder part has been that I’m still wading through a lot of how things work and in the moving, sometimes high-risk water that makes up the industry. It’s meant some things that have gone well and some that haven’t. What I’ve noticed among everything that it’s more important to know the right people for what you want to do.

There are a lot of people who aren’t what they say they are, or won’t do what they say they will, and with a lot of moving parts in a project there are a lot of people involved.

You have to have not just the right pieces, but the right access, too.

It’s a lot to get your arms around, and at times it can be a little maddening. I’ve been lucky that my production partner is incredible. Though we’ve had to navigate through some organic troubles here and there along the way, we’ve recovered pretty quickly and efficiently.

To me, some turmoil’s going to happen. It’s all about how you handle it.

That’s risk aversion, something that has become a big part of my mindset and process these days. I’m an investor in the projects I’m involved in and I want to see them successful. But I'm also learning that it’s not just the idea that sells but so much more. As an entrepreneur, I want to build things as close to what will make them move as possible. It’s been a learning experience.

It’s funny, but a lot of the issues that have come up have been the result of people versus anything else.

In Internet business, you’re not quite as dependent on outside sources or who you work with. A good developer, a good idea, and you’re about there. Even if you’re larger, the elements of the process are still relatively smaller compared to your average production.

When it comes to a TV show, it’s another story. It makes who you know really important.

Getting Inside the Minds of Web TV

November 17, 2008 1:18 PM

When you’re a blogger for a few sites, you might seem like all you do is talk. It’s not entirely true, of course, though if you met me—well, let’s just say I’ve spent my entire life hearing the term “chatterbox.”

But I do really spend a lot of time listening.

Over the course of the past few months, it’s meant keeping an ear to the rail in the Web TV business. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a creator-producer of both broadcast and Web TV projects, and as an Internet entrepreneur, I’m constantly watching for places to make money (aka, gray areas) in the business.

Luckily, working in the industry where I do, I get a lot of opportunity to hear people’s thoughts and what’s being said.

When it comes to Web television, it’s been a lot of promise—and caution. Discovery’s CEO said recently that they’ve done the math and don’t see the upside of Web TV just yet, while tons of Hollywood execs tell me that going from earning upwards of $25,000 per episode for TV to $2,500 for Web TV makes them wonder if being hired to write, produce or direct for the Web is worth their time.

This week’s debacle with the Motrin viral video campaign is proof that advertising and social media teams need to be a mix of seasoned Internet executives with those from traditional markets.

No less, unlike other industries who’ve met disruption from the Web, entertainment/TV has fared pretty well, really. In less than two years since the proliferation of Web video (and subsequently, Web TV), it’s already become primarily a Hollywood game. Not bad!

After far longer time, print media and music are still struggling to figure it out.

Following a conversation with the brilliant David Wolf of Accenture on Friday, as part of the equally cool NewTeeVee Live event in San Francisco, I’m convinced that the entertainment industry is doing well in part because it’s willing to explore the market and allow itself to be in good hands.

The crux of our 40-minute conversation was that everybody—from the big guns to the smallest producers—need to see the market at a high level, and who is making the key moves from there.

As a longtime Internet telecom exec with an equally long background in Web business, I’m always skeptical going onto calls like this.

But we share the same mindset: What we do right now sets the pace of the future. That’s the most important factor all should have in Web TV at the moment.

Hope and Excitement in a Busy Week

November 14, 2008 5:03 PM

It’s been such a crazy, busy week! NewTeeVee Live took place in San Francisco and the buzz was exciting. Great conversations have been taking place, everybody’s pumped about what’s to come for the future of television, and most of all, the approach and mindsets are more spot-on than ever.

Hollywood is truly full of brilliant minds, open enough to consider the bigger picture, and it is working for the business.

So what’s new with my projects?

Well, I’m getting a healthy dose of Good and Bad 101, from people who aren’t who they say they are to magical things that make me think about how lucky we all are to be able to do this for a living. I think it’s par for the course in the business, but it’s not without its own set of frustrations. It’s hard to know who is telling the truth, who can do what and who to get involved with.

I guess that’s in a way an exciting element of it all in some ways. You really never know what will happen.

Through it all, it’s certainly been hard to dash my hope and enthusiasm. I want nothing more than to see this project fly because I believe with all I am that it will inspire people and that’s exactly why I created it.

Is it inspiring network executives? I think so. I hope just one believes in our vision.

I absolutely believe it’ll resonate, not just with women, but people of all types, backgrounds, groups and orientations. After all, isn’t Hollywood the industry that can turn just about anything into something sensational?

I have confidence in the business. Let’s hope that, in the end, it will love my project.

Meanwhile, on the Web side, things are really happening. I’m about to start on a book project, so instead of focusing on a multitude of projects, I’m attaching to other people’s ideas and helping them make it happen, and then working on one to two very easy ideas on my end.

One thing I can say is that it has helped immensely to have the relationships I have. I don’t just mean in Hollywood but business overall. We’ll see what happens!

Random Thoughts About Good Ideas

November 11, 2008 1:23 PM

It’s one of those days where I want to talk about everything, but no one item is large enough for a single post.

I’m kind of proud of YouTube. First, for a 10-year-old company, parent Google is pretty agile. Compare it to something like AOL or Yahoo, and it’s fared a lot better. Granted, its model might be a little different, but you can’t deny that overall the company has made some smart moves, particularly in navigating and capitalizing on shifts in the market. YouTube has been eloquently making moves that make sense, at least to this tech geek-turned-media company owner-turned-television creator/producer. This week’s announcement with MGM, and other chatter out and about on the site, is proof.

Of course, we’ll see what happens. It’s early for video for everybody, and it’s going to be hard for even the most intelligent players in the category to find what’s going to make sense.

Speaking of this, Discovery’s CEO had the comment heard around the Web about Internet television, that they’ve looked into it and found that the “business model isn’t that strong.” Agreed, for a cable network, and for now. Web TV is early. Very.

That’s not to say there isn’t a promise of it, or that there isn’t money to be made by someone.

It’s just refreshing to hear an entertainment business executive with what appears to be a solid sense. And one who didn’t mention putting content on blast. The industry’s past mantra of “putting content where the users are” made me want to claw at my skin. Bad idea, at least in my opinion.

However, when it comes to good ideas, I think Fremantle’s investment in Spike TV shows is a smart way to get involved in Web TV without necessarily taking on the risk. I’ve got a few friends who work at the company and they’re brilliant. Putting a little cash into somebody else’s idea can be good business.

This week I’m slated to attend NewTeeVee Live in San Francisco, and I can’t wait. The EQAL crew is going up, and I believe presenting at the event. I’m such a fan girl of Greg and Miles. I say they’re the next Sergey and Larry (of Google), and I mean it.

It’s still a little hard to travel with my recently broken ankle, let alone walk a conference, but I’m going to try to be there.

Obama: How the Web Was Won

November 6, 2008 4:05 PM

It’s day two following the 2008 elections, and I admit I needed a day to recover.

Never mind the party in the Hollywood Hills that I attended. Just the sheer drama and intensity that followed this year’s election were enough.

Obama art assemblage

Art assemblage by Brandon Partridge.

We had a strong female candidate for president, an African American who won, a candidate caught in an alleged affair (including potential baby mama) and, as a prospective VP, a former beauty queen mother of four with a pregnant teenage daughter. Two wars, a financial meltdown, plus environmental, job, credit, healthcare, mortgage, oil/energy and impending food crises.

Cafépress.com sent me Obama thong underwear and a McCain coaster as a gift, and I use both.

There has not been a presidential race more reflective of our current society and times. It was utterly full of drama, action and nonstop.

As an Internet business Web 2.0 geek, I’m dying to talk about President-elect Barack Obama’s social media and Web campaign efforts. It was a great sign of how the Web can work for a brand, and here’s how:

They got it. Obama’s Web campaign was pretty fresh from even a corporate America standpoint, let alone a political effort. His team knew where to go and what to do and kept it all cross-platform. That’s the kicker with social media and the Web. Content from the top down by you drives buzz from the bottom up by us. A good Internet campaign is everywhere, and Obama’s crew did just that. Be multimedia, be multiplatform.

User-driven content starts with you. Tons of user-driven content was created during the election for all candidates, but I noticed that whether it was positive or negative seemed highly influenced first from the candidate’s image in the media. Proof that PR and marketing efforts with a positive, energetic spin can drive a lot of what users create and share in turn. It should also include all forms of media—print, TV, blogs, etc.—because it trickles down.

It felt personal. How many photos did you see of Sen. John McCain with his family, or in his everyday world? Just one look at Hollywood and you’ll see how well this kind of stuff sells. While the Republican Party took a hit for Gov. Sarah Palin’s expensive fashions, Obama’s campaign revealed that Michelle shops at Gap and H&M. I’ve talked about how people feeling real to the audience can create attachment. This all helps—and I truly think this helped Obama’s Web campaign as well.

It was fresh … and refreshed. While I’m not sure how much was driven by Obama’s team versus users, the Web promotion of Obama was always on the move. Clips on YouTube, a Twitter feed, you name it. It shows consistent, constant effort is the way to go. Far too many think just setting up a MySpace page or just having a Facebook group is enough. It isn’t. You’ve got to keep it updated, and keep in front of the audience—over and over until you’ve nailed your goal.

I Wonder If ‘Good’ Can Sell

November 3, 2008 10:42 AM

I can’t lie. I look at TV today, then our society’s many crises, and sometimes I wonder if there’s a correlation.

This was true even before today’s Reuters article about a study linking teen pregnancy to “sexy” shows. It’s crossed my mind many times as I’ve lunched around town amidst an ocean of people mimicking the mannerisms of Lindsay Lohan.

I’ve asked the same question more recently with the problems of our economy, driven in part by Americans wanting “bling” that they can’t afford. Many television shows over the past eight years have been centered around wealth, whether real or not.

It makes you wonder if Americans were trying to keep up.

It would make sense. TV today isn’t like it used to be, when there was “Dynasty” but then also shows like “Roseanne.” The menu now is almost entirely decadent. Never mind that only something like 14% of the population are millionaires, or that the majority of those I know don’t spend extravagantly.

We’re facing an enormous financial crisis in our country in large part because people want things they can’t afford.

Could television be to blame? I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s always been a good vs. evil battle when it comes to what the media produces. Even if media influences, it’s not necessarily our job to make sure it’s good and clean.

But that’s not the point of my post today. What I wonder is, can other ideas sell? Are Americans no longer interested in watching shows based on real life, like “Roseanne,” or even “Friends”?

Monica, Phoebe and Rachel shared an apartment and worked at regular jobs. “Friends” stayed on the air for years.

Is it the audience truly driving the demand for money-obsessed programming, or is it that the networks are stuck in a rut of what they think works and therefore produce the same concepts again and again?

Is an idea truly working if there are few other options that really challenge it? If given a choice, would a well-written, solidly cast show set in a normal world trump something based on bling?

As an entrepreneur, I wonder if this creates a gray area. I’d love to hear what people think.