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No Business Like Show Business

Career Move

Who: Kim LeMasters
Old Job: Executive producer and head writer, Twentieth Century Fox Television
New Job: CEO and chairman, ReplayTV Inc.

There's no business like show business — but that doesn't mean that you have to stick with the old model of show business. Fifteen months ago, when Kim LeMasters, 51, left Hollywood for Silicon Valley, he didn't abandon the entertainment industry. He's now CEO and chairman of ReplayTV, a company that makes next-generation television products.

Old Skills That Still Matter. "Hollywood is 100% personality-driven, and I think that my interactions with so many of the personalities there have served me well. No matter how logical the engineers are in Silicon Valley, they're still people! People skills are the key to making it here. You may have the technological know-how, but if you can't communicate effectively, then your idea isn't going to go anywhere."

Learning Curve "The decision-making culture in Silicon Valley compared with that in Hollywood is truly a fish-to-mammal analogy. Television is run autocratically for the most part. But in the Valley, collective thought rules. There are more moving parts in the machine that makes ReplayTV operate than there are in the machine that makes a TV show. Everyone is making decisions."

Teaching Note "In the new economy, the customer really is king. You've got to ensure that your business model revolves around serving the customer. If your business doesn't tie back to the customer, it will undoubtedly fail."

A version of this article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.