- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A very specialized collection of global leaders came together last month at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles — video game executives and players, web developers and publishers, online entrepreneurs, and social media stars.

The three-day Digital Entertainment World (DEW) event featured more than 100 speaking sessions with more than 300 industry leaders from around the world.

If there was only one social media and technology conference you could attend this year, this was the one. Some of the top executives in digital entertainment were within reach of a handshake.

“DEW is about the global ecosystem to monetize digital content from creation to distribution to consumer,” said DEW founder Ned Sherman. “The many multi-faceted content-technology relationships today are providing consumers with the most engaging, interactive and entertaining content in history, propelling a global market with digital revenue driving projected growth of more than $500 billion by 2017. For anyone waiting for a digital marketplace to emerge, the wait is over. It”s here.”

Keynote speakers included Rick Cotton, senior counselor of IP protection at NBC Universal; Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of the enterprise cloud company Box; Peter Moore, chief operating officer of Electronic Art; and Hale Boggs, chairman of Manatt Digital Media.

DEW organizers believe in supporting start-up companies: A competition for startups offered a grand prize valued at $74,000, including a $25,000 convertible note for investment, more than $25,000 worth of business services and $24,000 worth of hosting services.

The winner received a two-hour consultation with IDG Ventures, a global network of venture capital funds worth about $3.6 billion. Each of the 12 finalists received $1,000 per month in free hosting services for one year on Rackspace — a $12,000 value.

The startups had to pitch their products to a judging panel of top venture capitalists that included Peter Csathy, CEO of Manatt Digital Media Ventures, and Joel Yarmon, an investor for Draper Associates.

The 12 finalists are the ones to watch in 2014 for innovation and growth: Affinity Influencing Systems, Borne Digital, ChannelMeter, Datezr, Dealflicks, Flipps, IRocke, Krush Mobile, Meograph, Ninja Metrics, Social Rewards and WeBrand. Ninja Metrics won the competition.

These companies produce a wide variety of innovative goods and services, including learning platforms, social media, concerts and music promotion, dating, ticket sales, video streaming, and more.

⦁ Shirley Husar is a public speaker, journalist, and former Republican delegate/strategist based in California. Visit her website at shirleyhusar.com.