FilmTrack CEO: Synergies Abound with City National Acquisition

Jason Kassin, co-founder and CEO of IP rights management firm FilmTrack, spoke at length with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) about his company being acquired by City National Bank.

MESA: City National has made other acquisitions in this space. How do those tie in, and help FilmTrack and your business model?

Kassin: There are a few angles to this. City National has been known for decades as Hollywood’s bank, the entertainment industry’s bank, with a very strong practice in media and entertainment. Like many banks, they offer more than just pure banking services, including software services.

They acquired two other companies prior to FilmTrack that offer interesting, what I’d call parallel and complimentary, features and functions. One is Exactuals, which is a platform for accelerating the movement of payments in our industry, founded initially to service residuals, and has expanded to service royalties. Given that our system manages royalty and participation calculations and the contracts that govern the rights and the financials for distributors and networks and studios, it makes all the sense in the world to be aligned with a company that also does the processing. They also acquired Datafaction a few years back, and that company does software for business management in our industry.

Again, there are a lot of synergies between the platforms. And for us at FilmTrack, what’s really great is they’re investing really heavily in our product, helping to build out our new UI, continue the expansion of our features and functions in finance and accounting software around royalties and participation, and will look at additional features now that we have the wonderful backing of City National and their parent Royal Bank of Canada.

MESA: In terms of resources, this has got to be a boon for you guys.

Kassin: I don’t want to use the word ‘unlimited’ but it’s close. We have the resources of CNB and RBC behind us now and we plan on putting those resources to good and immediate use for products and technology development, and also to enhance our methodologies and processes around delivery and implementation as well. A large majority of this investment is going to product and tech.

MESA: Part of the acquisition announcement noted that you’re keeping the FilmTrack team intact. How important was that toward getting this done?

Kassin: That was vital, and they’ve been amazing to work with in keeping the entire team together. They were wonderful about that. From an operational standpoint, we’re still going to function somewhat independently, with the backing and support of an awesome financial institution that has great bonafides in the entertainment space. It’s a win-win for everybody, it’s great for the management team, great for the overall FilmTrack team, with 100% retention, and of course we’re adding people.

MESA: Next month is IBC. How quickly does this acquisition impact FilmTrack’s work, and will we see that in Amsterdam?

Kassin: We’ll be going first to Toronto for the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to meet with film customers who use our system to track the buying and selling of content, and then we’ll be headed to IBC to see our customers and partners in Amsterdam. And we just got back from three weeks in Europe with customers and partners with sessions in London, Madrid, Budapest.

I don’t know if the acquisition will profoundly change what we do at IBC, but as we look at other events and thought leadership in the industry, if other ways of being impactful from both the products and services standpoint appear, you’ll start seeing exciting things happen with FilmTrack and also from our other portfolio companies that we’re associated with, like Exactuals and Datafaction, and other offerings that CNB provides.

MESA: Anything else you’d like to add?

Kassin: We’re over the moon, because we feel like we had a few different opportunities, and this was the greatest one, our first choice, and it’s amazing when you get your first choice. We’re also very happy with our prior investor Insight Partners, they were great partners and got us to this point, and we have nothing but love and respect for them. Now is the next chapter, and what an exciting chapter it is.