In a surprise move, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, the new owners of Muze, has installed one of its own team, Bill Stensrud, as CEO of the entertainment product information and services company.
In a surprise move, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, the new owners of Muze, has installed one of its own team, Bill Stensrud, as CEO of the entertainment product information and services company. He replaces co-founder Paul Zullo, who has left the company.
In May, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital acquired Muze from the John Kluge Co. in a deal that is said to have valued the company at $30 million. At that time, Stensrud, a managing director for the San Diego-based investment firm, was named chairman of Muze.
"Moving forward, we are going to make a real significant and heavy investment in technology to substantially increase content coverage, Stensrud says. In addition, he says Muze will invest in technology to produce new and more effecient ways to deliver its content to its customers."
Muze is a leading provider of entertainment product information, with music, video, and book databases that provide detailed information on millions of titles. The company has about 1,000 kiosks in brick-and-mortar stores throughout the U.S., which allows shoppers to search for music and movies, and about 50 book kiosks. The company's content database also serves as the backbone for a hundreds of online home entertainment book store. Its main competitor is the All Music Guide, which is also said to be on the block.
Stensrud wouldn't comment on whether that company is up for sale, but he did acknowledge that AMG would be a good fit with Muze.
In the meantime, he says Muze "is playing to win. Until recently, Muze "has been hamstrung by access to resources," he says. "We will make a major committment to grow it and make it successful.
Muze was founded by Zullo and Trev Huzley in 1986 under the name Digital Radio Network, which used to trade air time with rock music radio stations, giving the stations a segment that allowed listeners to call up and get information on album being released on CD in exchange for allowing Digital Radio to sell advertising time to sponsors. Realizing the significant value of capturing entertainment product information and providing it to a retail environment, Zullo and Huxley installed the first in-store music information kiosk in Tower Records in 1991.
In 1992 John Kluge, who built the powerful Metromedia company, became a majority investor in the company. Huxley left the company in 2000. And then, in the early part of this year, when the John Kluge Co. wanted to cash in its Muze investment, Zullo led the search in shopping the company, and helped choose the new owners from what sources say was three or four suitors.
Prior to starting Muze, Zullo held several senior management positions at DIR Broadcasting, including senior VP and GM. He also produced the company's radio show, The King Biscuit Flower Hour.