Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Ross Levinsohn Speaks!

On our recent trip to sunny Southern California, we had a lively lunch in Brentwood with the ever-sassy Ross Levinsohn.

In the dullish panoply of Internet moguls, Levinsohn stands out as one of the more colorful characters, no small thing since he comes from a big company, News Corp. (owner of this site), where he played a big part in its on-the-cheap MySpace acquisition in 2005.

But big company no longer for Levinsohn!

Just before the holidays and four months after launching their digital media roll-up firm Velocity Investment Group with private equity firm General Atlantic, the former Fox Interactive Media president and his partner, former AOL head Jon Miller, announced a new and improved deal.

This time, it was a merger with ComVentures with its $1.5 billion in assets (with more fund raising to come) and a new name, Velocity Interactive Group. The investment focus of the new enterprise will be on digital media and communications.

Here’s Levinsohn talking about all that and more (excuse the noisy ladies about three minutes in):

As part of the deal, ComVentures’ partners David Britts, Keyur Patel and Roland Van der Meer will stay on with Levinsohn and Miller, while two other partners–Michael Rolnick and Jeb Miller–headed out the door.

But all these moving parts are not the point for Levinsohn, who thinks the investment dollars and expertise of the new firm will give it advantages over other investors seeking to dive into the still-dicey digital media space.

Indeed, Levinsohn’s Los Angeles location and familiarity with Hollywood is a plus, as the industry and its many players seek to figure out how to make the painful digital shift and find new monetization plans that will replace crumbling old-media businesses.

Whether making the big score is possible this early in the game remains to be seen, but Levinsohn seems ready to try.