Digital dons join forces for new online media startup BuzzDial

Digital dons join forces for new online media startup BuzzDial
Three of the country's biggest digital players are embarking on their own startup adventure, with Whybin\TBWA\DAN digital director Ross Howard, TVNZ's general manager of digital media Tom Cotter and Union's chief executive Geoff Devereux leaving their current posts to focus on a company called BuzzD

buzzdial foundersThree of the country's biggest digital players are embarking on their own startup adventure, with Whybin\TBWA\DAN digital director Ross Howard, TVNZ's general manager of digital media Tom Cotter and Union's chief executive Geoff Devereux leaving their current posts to focus on a company called BuzzDial

None of the three directors were able to discuss details of the project, which is still in beta, but the Companies Office description says it is in the "internet publishing and broadcasting space". 

"Really the only thing that we can confirm is that we are leaving our roles to work on a startup called BuzzDial, which we have been incubating for the past few months," says Devereux (the company was incorporated on April 15).

"We will all be full time in the business at the start of 2014. It represents a huge and exciting opportunity for us all, and the decision to leave our roles, colleagues and friends was not a light one to take. We will be in a further position to comment about the nature of the business in the early new year. We have our sights set on building an international business and have huge ambitions for BuzzDial, which we believe could be another Kiwi digital technology innovation success story on the global stage." 

In an email, Howard says: "I've been presented with a pretty incredible opportunity, which unfortunately has resulted in me having to make the frankly gutting decision of parting with the amazing team we've got here. It's been an incredibly hard call, but these types of chances are rare." 

Cotter says it was an opportunity too good to turn down. And he says the digital department at TVNZ is in a really good shape at the moment and he's confident it's in very good hands under chief executive Kevin Kenrick and head of digital Thor Bayer. 

The three, who are also the major shareholders, have worked together closely in the past, largely on the creation of tvnz.co.nz and the TVNZ Ondemand mobile apps (check out Howard's take on the more than one-year process here). Devereux spent a year and a half as managing director at Tequila\ alongside Howard after he returned from the UK. He took up the role with Federation Media (which rebranded to Union) in November last year. 

As for their replacements, Whybin\TBWA's chief executive Todd McLeay says it has appointed someone to replace Howard, but that person is still sorting a few things out with their existing employer and didn't want to make it public yet. 

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards says it is actively recruiting for Cotter's role and it has talked to some really strong candidates, but she says he "will be a hard act to follow". 

Union is also recruiting for a new chief executive. 

This post originally appeared on StopPress