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

January 2009 Archives

Young Hollywood Is So Last Season

January 26, 2009 10:01 AM

If there’s one thing I’ve realized these past seven months of being in the entertainment business, it’s how different the perception and the reality are in terms of what the world sees and what is in the business. This was made crystal clear to me when I attended the Golden Globe Awards and Producers Guild Awards this past month.

For the first time, I honestly “get” the business.

I snapped this with my own digital camera at the PGAs this weekend while on the red carpet.

In some ways, it’s the first time I’ve felt really, really excited about it. I love doing work in the entertainment market and know so many amazing people. They’re putting the shows on your TV set, “making” the stars everybody loves and brokering deals the Silicon Valley/tech crowd could never imagine. I’ve also met some incredible actors and actresses.

But, there’s a whole other side to the industry, one that’s kind of a bit nonsensical.

As a business person, this has made it harder to do the work I came here to do and has at times been frustrating. It’s like having to sift through an enormous, endless pile of bad shoes for months on end to find the few Prada and Christian Louboutin tucked away somewhere.

Who people think runs this town and who actually runs it are very different. It was so blatantly obvious to me at the Golden Globes a few weeks ago that I’m still in awe of it. This weekend, I attended the Producers Guild Awards and I’m even surer than ever.

I now actually like that there are these two parts to the equation in the market. It’s a distraction for my competitors.

What was really interesting to me as well was how different some of the younger actors/actresses were compared to the seasoned talent. At the PGAs, the women appeared a little cockier, posed a lot more and lingered longer on the red carpet. I’m not sure if any of them knew that most of the reporters kept saying, “Who is that?” It must be incredible to be a rising young star, but it did look a little weird.

Then somebody like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dana Delaney or Frances Fisher comes along and it’s very different. They’re cool, chilled out and professional, like they’re there on business.

Over the course of this weekend, I realized this is the Hollywood that made Hollywood glamorous. And, in a lot of ways, how really kind of tired the “young Hollywood” vibe is. I don’t think it has anything to do with age or experience—it’s attitude.

I can’t lie. I think that focus on young Hollywood cheapened the industry’s brand.

I’m not sure if it’s Michelle Obama or if the economy has just made the Paris Hilton form suddenly look a little silly, but real Hollywood seems to be coming back.

I think it’s going to make the younger talent step up to the level of the industry elite versus the other way around, and the business will benefit. It probably won’t mean that we’ll see any less of the usual suspects, but at least they may represent a little better. I think it’ll be a good change for everyone (including them).

I for one can’t deny that I like the bar being raised in our country again. Cool, smart and classy is the kind of image America should have.

One thing I can say is I’ve never been speechless any time I’ve crossed the path of anyone like Lindsay Lohan or Nicky Hilton, who I’ve seen often. Yet I couldn’t even utter a word in the presence of Ron Howard and Michael Douglas. It was pretty hilarious.

That’s the Hollywood Hollywood should want to be. I’m glad to see it coming back.

2009 Predictions

January 20, 2009 11:04 AM

Despite all the madness in our country, things strangely seem hopeful. There’s a new year, a new administration, a landmark president, a feeling that everybody’s back in the game again. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are profound all of a sudden. D.C. is the new New York.

If change is the new Alexander McQueen skull scarf, it can only be a good thing. The anti-intellectual trend of the past decade didn’t make very much sense. I’m glad to see it pass.

It leaves a really incredible clean slate. Here are my five big predictions of what will happen next in TV business:

Hollywood gets a leg up online. Entertainment’s faring pretty well as the Internet converges into its space. Networks aren’t doing everything well, or right, but they are at least taking enough thoughtful steps. I think there’ll be a tipping point in the coming eight months that’ll shift the game into the hands of a new player. The next two years of what’ll go down online will be very interesting.

At last, people will start to “get” analytics. Page views mean so little. So much can alter the page view between AJAX, SEO and video, but so few people I know of in the market really quantify traffic by it. The focus on uniques, session times and repeat visitors that takes place at the top level (M&A, etc.) will finally trickle down to the business masses this year. It will change how value and size are determined among sites online and should make some interesting shifts in how we do business.

Bold new innovation will hit traditional broadcast TV. I don’t know how, when or where, but I believe we’re in for a revival of innovation and risk in broadcast television.

Web TV will saturate. Remember: Supply can’t exceed demand. But it will for a while in Web TV—and ultimately, drive down prices. Everybody has or wants a Web show, but there won’t be enough money to go around. Brands will wisely make the hard push to big Hollywood talent and names that are moving quickly into the market. Independent producers and networks will have the potential to be squeezed out. Watch for much of traditional entertainment move into familiar roles with the internet now.

Web commercials will be hot. The new fun toy on the Web will be the Web commercial, PSA or other short advertising spot. It’ll become a little bit of a novelty, with users getting all engaged and everybody talking about it. I can already see the New York Times headline on it. The generation that has something to say is moving it to video. Expect a boom of user-generated and amateur content to follow suit.

I Finally See It

January 15, 2009 8:00 AM

Hello, entertainment business. I have finally found your coveted center. It took almost seven months of searching, but here you are. It’s like Indiana Jones finally finding the big gem.

Of course, like any great Hollywood adventure, I still need to cross the tomb, with a pit of snakes, a wall of spiders, a very narrow path and sideways guillotines flying at me to get there.

But still, I’ve found you, at last.

I need to study a little longer, but you can bet I’m already trying to figure out the way to the prize.

Hollywood is the most interesting industry I have ever done business in. The industry has so many layers it could be a video game. You’d start out combating fireballs, then graduate to soldiers to monsters to ninjas and evil wizards. Every board you complete leads to another.

While running along recently, I randomly caught a glimpse of where everything happens from in the market.

For an entrepreneur, finding this is like finding the secret chalice that holds the power to everything. I can’t believe I didn’t notice before. Maybe it was under all the assistants to assistants' assistants, or just the dizzying array of all the different kinds of producers.

I wonder if other people in the business know of it or notice it.

The ultimate prize in an industry is its levers. Now that I’ve found them, we’ll see if I can find a way to touch them.

Five Reasons Entertainment Needs Internet Talent for Web Efforts

January 5, 2009 12:22 PM

A comment on my last post inspired today’s post, in part because I think how businesses adapt to the Web is an important topic. I had said I feel the entertainment industry needs to staff more pure Internet business talent on its digital projects as one of my “holiday wishes.” It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed on this blog in the past. It is, of course, just a humble opinion. I only share my thoughts to help everybody see success. Business’ ability to adapt to the Web helps everybody in the end!

But it’s also not without having done some homework. I spent nine years at the engineering level of the Internet itself, with equal time in consumer sites, e-commerce and mobile technology, plus three years of owning a social media company. I’ve devoted a lot of my career to studying and applying this stuff. If I had to pick five signs that support my argument, they would be:

5. User interface: Before Hulu.com, every network’s Web site was a mess. There are very specific, set elements that drive the user experience, but you wouldn’t know it from these pages. Sites that fall way below the fold, real estate poorly used, nightmare navigation, etc. It’s statistically proven that these things play a role in drawing users to a site and keeping them there, yet they’re little seen within the industry’s efforts. That’s a pretty sure sign that companies aren’t working enough with true Web executives.

4. Audience: The Internet is essentially a platform, not unlike the broadcast television platform with which entertainment is accustomed to working. It’s why I’m always surprised to see an industry that does so well with it in one arena struggle so much with it on the Web. Do you really have to go after your customer and deliver your goods like a milkman, or could you create an enticing superstore they come to instead? The game hasn’t changed; the same rules apply. Only the field is different.

3. Timing that’s off: Generally, if you see something go big, you’ve missed the chance to capitalize on it. That’s particularly true in low-barrier-to-entry markets such as the Internet. The entertainment industry follows, not leads, online and often has misunderstood its tools and concepts. For example, “interactive” comes in a variety of forms, but most entertainment industry sites went directly for social networking, which isn’t really a fit for most content-focused audiences who come to consume your product. Commenting and discussion capabilities would have been better.

2. Poor positioning: Just because FunnyOrDie.com was a success doesn’t mean comedy is the only sell in Web TV. The same applies with webisodic content and other Web TV initiatives. That there is so much redundancy in the market points to a lack of understanding of it. It’s actually the women’s demographic that is said to be more viral, interactive and content-consuming online, with longer session times and brand loyalty. Webisodes are great, but Wallstrip and Wine Library prove other, less expensive and intensive formats can be as effective. Yet the majority of the market has been creating webisodes, many of them in comedy.

1. Bad information: I’ve seen many top digital entertainment executives speak on various panels and have read many quotes in the media about the market. I’m not the only one in the audience who noticed that people sounded inexperienced. When you think about it, it’s normal. Few Internet executives can talk nearly as well about entertainment as entertainment veterans can. Where it becomes troubling is when you realize this is who is leading the industry’s Internet efforts.

One thing I can say about entertainment is that it’s faring much better in adapting to the Internet than media, and especially music. I think if a few companies were to add a little Internet experience to the mix, the industry could someday dominate the Web.