Nearly three years ago at SXSW, Turner’s Media Camp accelerator launched with an ambitious plan to help startups focused on changing the media world. After investing in and leading 27 companies through its 12-week accelerator program, however, the company is shutting down Media Camp and its associated Emerging Technology team.
In an email sent yesterday (full text below), Media Camp founder Balaji Gopinath announced the close of the accelerator, writing that while its “impact to the media industry and Turner/Time Warner [had] been significant,” it had also faced challenges both internally and externally.
“We have not found the clarity and direction that we needed to continue,” Gopinath wrote.
At a time when the media business seemed to be in flux, Media Camp was formed to connect old and stodgy media brands with new technology that could help them connect with audiences. The accelerator was founded by members of Turner’s West Coast Emerging Technology group who were looking for ways to tap into the nearby startup ecosystem and introduce some of its ideas into the broader media company.
With a stable of networks like TBS, TNT, CNN and Adult Swim as part of the Turner portfolio, the hope was that the folks at Media Camp could make introductions to help get startups their first customers, as well as provide them with valuable feedback about what traditional media companies really wanted and needed from the tech industry.
The team also hoped to extend those introductions to the broader Time Warner family of media businesses. In early 2013 it was announced that Warner Bros. would also run a Media Camp program out of Los Angeles ostensibly to help startups focused more on the film side of the industry to make contacts there. (A source tells me WB will still run its version of the Media Camp program next year.)
Media Camp found a limited amount of success in its three years, however, and it seems getting the tech and media industries to understand each other was harder than it first seemed. Or at least, that was the case within Turner.
It’s probably worth noting that while Media Camp is shutting down, there are still a few other media-focused accelerators out there. Knight Foundation-backed (but independently run) Matter.VC is still operating in San Francisco, and just closed applications for what will be its fourth group of startups.
Meanwhile, Disney has also dipped its toes into the accelerator market by partnering with TechStars earlier this year to launch its own program for media startups. Similar to Media Camp, it aimed to connect startups with executives within its portfolio of media brands.
Both of those programs are newer, but we’ll see if either are any more successful than Media Camp in a few years. In the meantime, here’s the full text of Gopinath’s email: