Smith, whose previous job was an investment banker at Allen & Company, worked on many Internet acquisition deals, such as Advertising.com's sale to AOL and the del.icio.us sale to Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). At CBS, Smith said he plans to be "much more proactive making acquisitions across the board."
When I asked Smith whether he's looking for technology or eyeballs, he said that he's more inclined to take a closer look at technologies and platforms that help to deliver content or advertising, or even video search technologies. Smith would not disclose how much CBS has set aside for acquisitions, when I asked him if CBS would pay $1 billion for Facebook. "Facebook has a fantastic group of guys," he said, underscoring Facebook's ability to understand the Internet generation and the type of programming that might be popular. "I won't rule anything out," he added. "We could do a huge content deal... [but] it's all theoretical."
Smith said that communities/social networks are increasingly core to any media company and that CBS wants to either buy, build or partner to establish communities online. To be sure, Smith is looking for young companies. (Aren't all media companies?) "While you're talking to a reformed investment banker, there are a lot of things we can do with commercial relationships," he said. "I'm not inclined to buy a YouTube, unless they're six guys and a dog who would appreciate working on building a platform."
Larry Kramer stepped down from his position as President, but will remain as an advisor. Kramer's role at CBS Digital Media was to bring the disparate online properties together and build a foundation that CBS could build upon. Under Kramer, the operations of CBS Sporstline, CBSnews.com and CBS.com were brought under one single division. Kramer also added new digital properties, such as showbuzz and Innertube, and helped CBS make early strategic decisions, such as partnering with Google (goog) and streaming the NCAA games live on the Internet. Additionally, sales at the online division are double what they were 18 months ago, and it's profitable. "I could have walked away from this six months ago, or six months from now," he said. "Personally, it's time for me to take a breath."
Kramer, who founded MarketWatch and hired me in 1999, said he's much more of an entrepreneur. Being part of laying the foundation for CBS was entrepreneurial. Now that it's moving into the growth phase through mergers and acquisitions, it's time to bring in someone who's more experienced with buying companies, said Kramer. "The desire of the media companies to get more involved dictates that there will have to be more m&a activity," he said. "The next natural step is to bring in a guy like Quincy."
What will CBS buy?
a) social network (i.e. facebook, beebo, tagged)
b) video-sharing site (i.e. Guba, Metacafe)
c) broadband channel creator (i.e. DAVE.tv, vSocial)
d) ad-serving/video technology (booyah networks,VideoEgg, Revver)