Digital media firm Velocity targets scribes



NEW YORK -- Former News Corp. and AOL executives are teaming for a new digital media investment firm that could emerge as a source of funding for striking writers.

Velocity Interactive Group, which was set to be formally unveiled Tuesday, will pair former AOL CEO Jonathan Miller and former Fox Interactive Media president Ross Levinsohn with ComVentures, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm.

Velocity is starting with investments in digital-media storage company Fabrik and music-focused virtual world Doppelganger, but Levinsohn said he is looking toward the striking talent of Hollywood and New York for future investments.

He declined to mention any names but said he is involved in "pretty active discussions" with writers, producers and talent.

"There are incredible opportunities out there for talent," Levinsohn said. "Now we have the capital to ignite some of those."

Levinsohn said the deals are not contingent on the strike and could happen even if the conflict is resolved soon.

With the announcement, ComVentures is defunct as a separate firm but the new entity "will continue to invest ComVentures' current fund and manage its more than $1.5 billion in assets," Velocity said. Levinsohn declined to reveal how much capital he and Miller are investing.

In addition to stateside deals, Velocity also announced two investments in India.

Levinsohn and Miller have been working on the announced deals with ComVentures partners David Britts, Keyur Patel and Roland Van der Meer for the past year. The five will now be partners of Velocity.

The announcement of the formation of Velocity puts to rest months of rumors of the investment strategies of Miller and Levinsohn.

The duo signed on as strategic advisers with private-equity group General Atlantic in September, which led to numerous articles and Ex-new media posts saying that General Atlantic was financially backing a Miller and Levinsohn investment firm. This company was mistakenly referred to as Velocity Investment Group.

Levinsohn, though, said that his and Miller's relationship with General Atlantic remains unchanged by the announcement and that they could explore investment opportunities with the private-equity firm in the future.