Impact, an online professional networking site for the film and television industries, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Impact executives said the funding will strengthen its platform as the company seeks to capitalize on a production boom in the entertainment sector.
The funding brings Impact’s total raised to over $21 million and marks the arrival of Shasta Ventures CEO Jason Pressman to Impact’s board of directors. The funds will be used to add talent to Impact’s product and engineering teams and to build and deliver new features.
The round was led by Shasta Ventures with participation from Benchmark Investment. The round also included strategic investors such as Skydance, Riviera Partners, Michael Lynton, chairman of Snap and former chairman and chief executive of Sony Entertainment, Eric Fellner, producer and co-chairman of Working Title Films, Anthony Wood, founder and head. executive of Roku and others.
The Impact platform gives productions and crews the ability to connect with peers and provides tools that can help teams hire new crew members, check workforce availability, and organize their hiring efforts all in one place. The company was founded by Academy Award-winning filmmakers and Imagine Entertainment Executive Chairman Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.
“Entertainment is a network-based industry that doesn’t have an online network,” Impact chief executive Tyler Mitchell said in a statement. “With production spending continuing to break global records and $4.6 billion being invested to build new studios and hundreds of state-of-the-art soundstages around the world, now is the time to accelerate our development of network-based features , which will connect the industry.”
Los Angeles is feeling the brunt of the production boom Mitchell mentioned, despite being the global leader in stage capacity with 5.4 million square feet of stage space, according to nonprofit production licensing agency FilmLA. In an earlier story published by the Business Journal, Adam J. Fowler, founding partner of CVL Economics, a West Hollywood-based entertainment consulting firm, said that soundstages have been underbuilt over the years in Hollywood and that a lot of industrial space is being reused for stages in the region.
Firms such as Hackman Capital Partners have invested significantly in meeting production requirements. In October, it closed a $1.6 billion capital raising for the HCP Studio Fund and last year announced a $1.25 billion investment to upgrade Television City, a facility in LA’s Fairfax district.
Part of meeting this demand, however, is not just upgrading or acquiring new production space, but the ability to accommodate increased production activity with sufficient labor and productions that can fast-track crew members. This is where Impact sees a chance to capitalize.
The platform’s tools, according to Mitchell, are primarily designed to save people time. Mitchell gave an example of building a crew of hundreds of people and how such a process can take thousands of hours between getting contact information, calling, emailing and waiting for responses.
“The system is able to search by role, by location, and then send a large volume of emails to qualified people,” Mitchell said. “We usually send out about 20 availability checks and we’ll find about four available people who would be a good fit for that production.”
Approved users don’t have to pay for the platform, according to Mitchell. However, Impact sees a revenue opportunity in pitching its services to studios and production companies as a time and cost saving measure.
Mitchell said a manufacturing company could also use Impact to reduce the time commitment of production secretaries, who must manually enter hundreds of names, phone numbers and email addresses into spreadsheets that they then share via PDF as official crew list.
With this process, any changes to a crew’s composition must also be managed through manual changes to a spreadsheet.
Mitchell did not share exact figures on what the cost of Impact might look like for production companies and studios.
Impact enters a professional network already inhabited by major platforms, including LinkedIn and Facebook Meta, where industry professionals come together for business networking.
Ali Aksu, a film producer and entrepreneur, said he saw casting and networking teams through Facebook. Aksu is also the founder of Untold, an investment platform that provides vetted funding for entertainment.
He said one of Impact’s challenges is convincing industry members who already use established websites to switch to something new.
Impact’s case is based on the fact that its platform is strictly focused on professional communication and profiles.
“On Facebook, you get all kinds of messages. Your friends are there, your family is there, and there are groups you’re associated with,” Mitchell said. “But it’s not like the notifications you get are strictly for your work. Your Facebook identity may not necessarily be the same identity you want to display on a professional network.”
Impact’s database has 1.1 million verified profiles, according to Mitchell, who said searching for a crew member on Impact isn’t like making an open forum post on Facebook. Instead, hiring can be done with adjusted search filters.
Mitchell added that one of the main priorities for Impact, which is still a young company, is to grow its user base and get more people to understand its value proposition.
“We’ve gone from 2,500 people at the end of last year to over 25,000 now,” he said. “We hope to take that number to over 30,000 by the end of the year.”