David Linde Named CEO of Participant Media

Hussein Katz
David Linde

The hire comes as Jeff Skoll's company prepares to make a major investment in Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks.

Participant Media announced today that David Linde has joined the company as CEO.

Linde arrives from Lava Bear Films, the company he launched after running Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Good Machine and Miramax.

“David has the creative acumen to tell stories on the issues that matter, the respect of the artistic and business communities and entrepreneurial talent to advance these stories by any means possible throughout the world," said Participant chairman Jeff Skoll.

Linde replaces Jim Berk, who was ousted as Participant CEO in April after Skoll decided to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the company he founded in 2004 with a mandate to produce socially minded movies and television content. Skoll, who had been serving as temporary CEO, will turn over the reins to Linde on Nov. 1.

“Jeff’s vision is vitally distinct and powerful and offers partners around the world tremendous opportunity. It’s an absolutely unique chance to combine my professional experience and relationships with my intellectual and emotional priorities and expand Participant Media’s impact on a global level," said Linde.

Linde's arrival comes at a crucial juncture for Participant, which, as first reported by THR, is nearing a deal to make a $200 million-plus equity investment in DreamWorks and officially partner on a slate of films. The companies have flirted for years, with Participant co-financing and co-producing a slew of DreamWorks titles, including The Kite Runner, The Help, Lincoln and Bridge of Spies, the Spielberg-directed film starring Tom Hanks that hits theaters Friday.

Both companies are at a crossroads, with DreamWorks in particular need of a financial boost. India's Reliance Entertainment isn't likely to invest any more money after helping to bankroll Spielberg's shop since 2008. Interestingly, Reliance is a major investor in Linde's Lava Bear.

Participant would become DreamWorks' equity partner just as the latter embarks on the complicated process of forging a new distribution deal with a major studio. Its pact with Disney expires in 2016, and rumors are rampant that Spielberg and his team instead will opt for Universal.

In return for its investment, Participant would have bragging rights to being in business with Spielberg, at least on the film side. And its own movies could be guaranteed distribution via whatever new deal DreamWorks strikes, according to one source.

Participant is having a busy year. It will release an unprecedented 12 films this year and is tipped to have a busy awards season, between Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and Davis Guggenheim's documentary He Named Me Malala.