In the beginning, there was Canned Interactive. Founded in 1993, CI is a veritable dinosaur in its field, an "old, new media company," said CEO and Creative Director Doug Textor.
The old/new motif is woven throughout the company's image and operations. Its 6,500-square-foot offices are in the El Capitan Theatre building on Hollywood Boulevard an old Art Deco building that was recently renovated. Its stock-in-trade is new technologies, but operations take a bricks-and-mortar approach.
"We're not a 4 a.m., pierced-kids-eating-candy-bars-and-potato-chips company," Textor said. "We work a normal business day and respect the fact that people have outside lives."
It may seem odd that a company formed just seven years ago is considered an old-time veteran, but that's why they call it "new" media. Today, Canned Interactive designs Web sites (mainly on behalf of entertainment companies), produces video games and packages DVD movies which means it creates all the content on the disc except the movies, a considerable undertaking on most current releases.
That's a big change from the company's business in 1993, when partners Textor and Jay Papke landed their first big client: Capitol Records, which hired CI to produce an interactive video game to complement Frank Sinatra's "Duets" release.
CDs on the computer
In those days, such "enhanced CDs" were on the cutting edge of new media. Record companies released music discs that also contained content that could be read on a computer's CD-ROM drive, such as extra liner notes, games and other stuff. Enhanced CDs never really caught on with consumers, and while they are still being released, they no longer make up much of CI's business.
The Web and DVD have more than made up for the disappointment of enhanced CDs. From $300,000 in revenues in 1997, the company jumped to $2 million last year and is on track for $3 million in 2000.
CI switched its focus to online projects as early as 1994. Capitol hired the company again to design its corporate Web site, and from there CI started to land Hollywood studios looking to promote their films online.
It hasn't always been a lucrative business. After developing a Web site for New Line Cinema's "Lost in Space" release that contained a number of interactive features, the studio offered CI a mere $1,000 to put those features on the DVD release, and CI bit.
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