Back in business
Dominic Carosa, founder of Dominet Digital, was an entrepreneur from an early age. When he was five, he began selling postcards out the front of his house at competitive prices: one postcard for one cent, or three postcards for two cents.
“Back then my core objective, my core ROI, was buying a bag of lollies,” he says. “I’m happy to say I’ve progressed from lollies.”
Carosa started technology company Destra in the 1990s which was listed as a public company in 2000 just after the dotcom crash. The company soon became the largest independent media and entertainment company in Australia.
A year before the listing, Destra lauched mp3.com after recognising there was a change in the way people were getting their music and video – they were moving online.
“We saw that the music industry was changing,” says Carosa. “People were starting to consume more content, whether it’s music or video content, over the internet … We basically built a website that allowed artists to cut out the middle person, the record company, and go direct to the consumers.”
In 2008, however, Carosa lost his company when it got caught up in the Opes Prime collapse. The company went into voluntary administration and because Carosa was highly geared in Destra, he lost all his equity. Then, three or four weeks later, Prime Media increased their stake to 44 per cent and Carosa lost his job.
“As we know, when a large corporate effectively controls a smaller organisation, there’s no room for an entrepreneurial CEO, so it was my time to go,” he say. “That was actually, in fact, harder – to leave the company that I co-founded than losing ‘x’ millions of dollars in Opes Prime.”
After his departure from Destra, with the support of some ex-Destra shareholders, he set up Dominet Digital, a company which invests in internet start-ups. He has also now bought back Destra assets.
The music industry today has most certainly changed since the late 90s. Carosa says some major record companies have embraced the shift in technology and digital music. He’s not so certain about the video industry, which, he says, are committing the same mistake record companies did 10 years ago.
Basically, consumers want content in digital format and they want to experience content their own way. The video companies are not catering for this at the moment.
“In my view, the digital content genie is already out of the bottle and it has been for many years,” he says. “What the record companies tried to do was control how consumers could access and view content.”
Carosa says it’s going to be difficult for a traditional media company such as a TV station to reinvent themselves.
“They’ve got one foot stuck in the old world and they’re trying to effectively protect their revenue and their existing assets, and they’ve got one foot in the new economy world,” he says.
So what does the future for this industry hold?
“My view of the future is that more and more content will be given away for free, but will be wrapped in advertising.”