After four years, the Hollywood Stock Exchange is finally getting a chief executive.
Andy Kaplan signed on as the first CEO of the popular Web site, where users receive non-negotiable “Hollywood dollars” in exchange for their demographic information and can then use the currency to buy virtual “shares” in celebrities, films and music.
As the fortunes of those investments rise and fall, so does the value of a user’s portfolio.
“Right now it’s the entertainment corollary of day trading,” said Kaplan. “They brought me in to give the company a higher profile with the media and entertainment business.”
The site, which generates most of its revenue from advertising, has garnered a cult following among the young and affluent. Some fans actually buy successful HSX portfolios from others traders at auction sites like eBay.
Since its launch in 1996, the Santa Monica-based firm has been run by David Herman, who continues to hold the titles of president and chief operating officer. Kaplan was hired to grow the firm by forging new partnerships within the entertainment industry.
He plans to start by leveraging HSX’s database of user demographics. He hopes to sell market research extrapolated from that database and trading activity on the Web site to the entertainment industry for use in development of new films and other projects.
Several joint marketing campaigns with movie studios are now in the works, following a recent deal with Lions Gate Films promoting the movie “American Psycho.” The promo offered HSX users who invested their mock dollars in the film a chance to reap actual cash if the film hit $20 million at the box office in its first month.
Kaplan is also examining the legal issues involved in using the exchange as a vehicle for users to actually invest real money in film projects. “But it’s not going to happen tomorrow,” he says.
Kaplan was most recently executive vice president of the Columbia TriStar Television Group at Sony Pictures Entertainment. He received his MBA from USC.