Digital Dealmakers: Gina Lombardi

Jun 19, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The player: Gina Lombardi, president of MediaFlo USA, a subsidiary of San Diego-based cellular technology company Qualcomm.

The play: MediaFlo wants to occupy a new niche in cellphone video by powering full-length movies and TV shows on the devices, rather than just the short clips in vogue today. To do that, MediaFlo is building out a new cellular network for an October debut. Using what it calls “multicast technology,” MediaFlo can deliver a TV-like experience with cellphone video, sending the video to mobile phones at broadcast quality rather than the still-sluggish pace that plagues most cellphone video today. Because MediaFlo is an aggregator of both technology and content, Ms. Lombardi is responsible for striking deals with broadcast and cable networks for cellphone video. “I am wholesaling the service to Verizon and other operators and they resell it,” she said.

The pitch: “We believe the opportunity exists for a TV-like experience on mobile phones today,” Ms. Lombardi said. MediaFlo defies the conventional wisdom that consumers want only video appetizers on their phones. Most cellphone video today runs for one to five minutes, but MediaFlo’s consumer research has found that users will watch up to 30 minutes of a movie in one sitting.

The numbers: In MediaFlo tests, consumers have spent as much as 60 minutes total throughout a day watching cellphone video, including several stints at 10, 15 or 20 minutes. They aren’t just watching in the doctor’s office or on the train, either. Many consumers who tested the service watched mobile TV while feeding their kids or giving them a bath, Ms. Lombardi said.

The money guys: Qualcomm is investing more than $800 million in its new cellular video network. Ms. Lombardi declined to specify when Qualcomm expects to generate a return on investment.

In the mix: MediaFlo will compete directly with Crown Castle’s Modeo, also a new technology platform for delivering next-generation mobile TV. Ms. Lombardi is working with major networks to create a portfolio of long-form content for launch. “We are looking at getting one-hour shows, half-hour shows, and putting them all together,” she said. Over time, MediaFlo will add shorter clips to suit demand.

The backstory: Ms. Lombardi has worked with Qualcomm for 15 years in various divisions. She studied business economics at the University of California at San Diego and earned a law degree from Western State University.

Who knew? Ms. Lombardi grew up in Cypress, Calif. She’s married and lives in Del Mar, Calif. Like another Cypress native, Tiger Woods, she likes to play golf. Her first job was working at Disneyland, serving Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes at a restaurant on the River Belle Terrace. Now she cooks dinner every night at home. “That’s how I de-stress from my days,” she said.