CBS has shaken up its digital team by hiring Quincy Smith, the Silicon Valley banker, to lead its internet strategy in place of Larry Kramer, the well-regarded web veteran.
The media group is expected to announce on Monday that Mr Smith has been named president of its newly-created CBS Interactive division, and will oversee the interactive and online strategy across all of its business units. Mr Kramer will step down as president of CBS Digital, and is expected to leave the company after a short period as an adviser.
The move marks the second time in two months that one of the two media groups controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone has shuffled high-level executives in an effort to accelerate its transition to digital media.
In September, Mr Redstone ousted Tom Freston from his post as chief executive of Viacom and replaced him with Philippe Dauman, a company director and private equity investor.
In both cases, CBS and Viacom have sought to reach out to bankers and well-connected venture capitalists who might be positioned to discover the next MySpace or YouTube in its infancy, and well before it becomes the subject of a frenzied bidding war.
A veteran of Allen & Company, the boutique media investment bank, Mr Smith has worked on such notable internet transactions as Google’s initial public offering and the sale of Advertising.com to AOL.
Mr Smith told the Financial Times he wanted to not only to replicate CBS’s traditional television and radio businesses on the internet, but also to enhance them with more interactive features, such as user-generated content and social networking. He also acknowledged that the company would look to make acquisitions. “I’m going to make every opportunity to be available to entrepreneurs,” he said.
Les Moonves, CBS’s chief executive, praised Mr Smith’s experience and said: “This announcement is particularly significant because it reflects our belief that the future of media lies increasingly in the interactive realm.”
Mr Kramer’s resignation comes as a surprise. After founding the MarketWatch.com financial website, which was sold to Dow Jones for $528m, he was recruited with great fanfare by Mr Moonves last year.
During his tenure, CBS launched several internet initiatives. Its webcast of this year’s “March Madness” college basketball tournament was considered a watershed event that confirmed the internet’s potential as a video broadcast medium. CBS has also clinched deals to distribute some of its television programmes through YouTube, the internet video site, Google, and others.
However, while rivals such as News Corp, NBC Universal and even Viacom have made numerous acquisitions in an effort to transform their digital businesses, CBS has held back.
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