CBS gets Interactive with Smith


CBS Corp. is rebooting the top spot at its digital division.

CBS Digital Media president Larry Kramer is being replaced by Quincy Smith, a prolific dealmaker from Allen & Co., the company is set to announce today. He will serve as president of the newly named CBS Interactive, effective immediately.

"This announcement is particularly significant because it reflects our belief that the future of media lies increasingly in the interactive realm," CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves said. "Quincy Smith is one of the smartest, most forward-thinking executives working in new media today."

Kramer, who will stay on in an advisory role, said it was his choice to leave CBS. "I knew there were a set number of things that I wanted to accomplish, that there would be stages after that," he said. "I wasn't sure if I wanted to be involved or not (in those future stages)."

Smith already has been working with CBS Corp. during the past nine months in an advisory capacity at Allen & Co. on deals including the company's shortform content deployment on YouTube, implemented last month; it was at the investment bank's Sun Valley, Idaho, retreat where Moonves met the creators of the viral-video site.

Smith also has been involved in a who's who of mergers and acquisitions in the digital space in recent years, including the sale of Neopets to Viacom as well as transactions involving Google, AOL, Yahoo! Inc. and Comcast Corp.

Smith emphasized that he will not focus entirely on making deals to add scale. "Certain deals are important, but most times, if we can organically build on a small level, that's the best resource allocation," he said.

As far as acquisitions, Smith said CBS Corp. is interested in finding companies with the potential to be the next generation of YouTubes.

"CBS is always willing to be open-minded in talking to entrepreneurs," he said. "My involvement will only continue that trend."

Before Allen & Co., Smith was a founding partner at venture capital firm the Barksdale Group. He also worked for five years in corporate development and investor relations at Netscape, ultimately helping engineer its sale to AOL.

CBS and Allen & Co. recently signed on as investors in Spot Runner, a startup company involved in making local advertising purchases more efficient.

The appointment comes days after CBS Corp. drew mixed reviews for its third-quarter earnings, stemming in part from slowing growth in advertising revenue. Moonves has made expansion on the digital front a top priority in his tenure, including the launch of broadband channel Innertube.

Kramer's contributions at CBS included adding online video at CBS News — which he termed a "cable news bypass" — plus extending the SportsLine and brands.

Kramer became president of CBS Digital Media on March 31, 2005. A newspaper journalist for 20 years, he created a hand-held sports-information monitor called SporTrax in the early 1990s. He founded the financial news Web site MarketWatch in 1997. (It was purchased by Dow Jones in 2005.)

He praised Smith, whom he said he had gotten to know over the past several months.

"He's the right guy to do it," Kramer said. "The company also really had to start visiting the M&A strategy and partnership strategy because it was clear to get the kind of growth for a company of our size, you have to go further than organic growth."

As for Kramer's next move, he hopes to go back to some of the plans he made for life after MarketWatch before he joined CBS.

"I had several things teed up, a couple of books I wanted to write, several offers to be on boards and get involved in startup companies, but at this very moment, I'm actually just going to chill a while and take some trips" and spend time with his family, he said.

"I want to thank Larry for his contributions here, which were significant," Moonves said. "I have no doubt that he will continue to be at the forefront of the new-media revolution, and wish him all the best as he embarks on his next chapter of his distinguished career."

The change in leadership at CBS comes less than a week after CBS Corp.'s former other half, Viacom, made a change of its own at MTV Networks. Mika Salmi, founder and CEO of Atom Entertainment, signed on as president of global digital media (HR 9/2).

Andrew Wallenstein reported from Los Angeles; Paul J. Gough reported from New York.