Social entertainment network plans to take on Netflix and iTunes

24 Nov 2011

A new Dublin-based social entertainment network called Digital Jet plans to invest €5m and create 80 new jobs in a bid to take on the might of Netflix, iTunes and Amazon globally.

The company, headed by Niall O’Neill, has pioneered a new ‘micro cloud’ technology that has won it licensing deals with a number of major movie and record labels, book publishers and indie movie and music labels.

The company, backed so far by ACT Venture Capital, is in the process of closing investment deals.

O’Neill explained that the plan is to generate 80 new jobs over the next three years, with over 40 of the jobs created in 2012 in the areas of IT, software development, network management, digital marketing and sales.

A stealth attack on the established digital order

DJ 3

The company is in stealth mode to capture the momentum that is occurring in social media and in the smartphone space.

“We are going into the market to compete with iTunes, Amazon and Netflix. WE know there is a market and it is accelerating year on year driven by the growth of the internet and mobile. Netflix generated US$2.1bn revenue in the US and Canada alone in 2010 and yet control less than 1pc of the market value globally.

“We have the team, the technology and the strategy to compete.”

The Blanchardstown-based company’s product is a location-based entertainment network called DJ Media Stream that allows users to stream and download a variety of media, ranging from music, movies and books to games and news apps to any connected device.

Digital Jet’s CEO Niall O’Neill is a Trinity graduate who previously worked with Sony Music. The company is chaired by Anthony Dinan, former CEO of Thomas Crosbie Holdings, publishers of The Sunday Business Post and The Irish Examiner.

The global digital media and entertainment market is valued at over US$400bn, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the market is set to grow by 200pc in 2012. In the UK 90pc of all music sales are digital.

“We plan to launch Digital Jet in February/March to a closed group of users. Our plan is to be a valued player in the infrastructure of entertainment.

“We’re looking to deliver a system that is customisable to the end user that allows them to enjoy a ‘media buffet’ that is always with them using all the media at their disposal including smart TV, mobile, web and letting the end user decide how much content they can consume and how much.

“There will be a phased deployment focused on three primary products – online, mobile and a third which I won’t mention but is our ‘secret sauce’.”

O’Neill said that the DJ Media Stream technology is being welcomed by labels and publishers because it tackles the issue of content piracy but also allows the labels and publishers a reach that extends beyond what Netflix, iTunes and Amazon are so far capable of.

“In effect we are creating a new standard in digital entertainment that addresses a range of problems. At the moment 95pc of music on the web is pirated and the reality is 95pc of musicians in the world are on modest incomes. Most people struggle to find the movie content they are looking for online. While people may search for torrents they are fed up with poor quality pirated material and the risk of viruses.

“People are willing to pay for content if they can afford it at a reasonable price. We are integrating traditional broadcasting methodologies into a new technology that meets the needs of consumers and that can be customised to meet their pace and budget,” O’Neill said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years