Who’s Going to Run Digital Big Media?

The New York Times quotes Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman, who once said, when it comes to movie hits “nobody knows anything.” The comment actually holds true when it comes to online video and emerging digital media markets.

One of the big challenges of this big shift to digital media is that no one can predict or even come close to predicting what is going to work, and will become popular. The managements can make a calculated guess, but that is no guarantee of success. Still, good guessers are like good baseball managers, doing their best to tilt the numbers in their favor.

That is why those who know something are in high demand, according to the same New York Times report, which points to recent shake-ups at Fox Interactive, AOL, CBS and Viacom. We had covered these moves extensively over on GigaOM.

While some companies (Fox and AOL) have replaced the new media types with the old media doyens, others such as CBS brought in Quincy Smith, a former Netscape-r, VC and most recently an investment banker at Allen & Company to guide its digital strategy. Viacom put Mika Salmi of Atom Films in charge of its MTV Digital.

It is good to see the Silicon Valley’s (decidedly middle-aged compared to the young ones like the YouTube founders) try and make an impact in New York.

They not only would have to shepherd the old media giants to a brave new world, but they would also have to find ways to turn a profit, and fight off internal political battles, something which is more common place in New York, than on this side of the country. Will they be able to do it… let’s check back in six months.