If you were curious what happened to the guy who spent six years crapping all over CNN and the guy who spent $200,000 on an office bathroom at NBC so he could crap in private, well, wonder no more. As it turns out, they're teaming up. Former CNN president Jon Klein and former NBC entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin announced earlier today that they're leaving that old media stuff behind and hopping aboard the money train to the future by launching an online venture called TAPP (short for "TV App"). Because why have one disgraced ex-television exec running the show when you can have the Wonder Twins of failure?
According to Klein, the idea behind the new app is that it'll be a single entity that consolidates dozens of available channels for computers, mobile devices and smart-TVs. Each channel will reportedly focus on a different celebrity, someone who ostensibly already has a wide fan-base that will pay money for streaming content featuring that person.
Says Klein, who honed his ability to be enthusiastic about shitty ideas while running CNN:
"There are a lot of stars that have an intense following and would like to connect with that following and monetize it in more ways, but they don't know where to start," says Klein. "We're trying to provide an end-to-end solution for them. That leaves the stars free to do what they do best, which is delight their biggest fans."
Which brings us to Sarah Palin. Because if there's anyone who cares deeply about every possible way to monetize her very existence, it's Sarah Palin -- and because why have the Wonder Twins of failure when you can have a fucking Voltron of failure? Klein and Gaspin are reportedly in talks to recruit Palin as the focus of one of the app's first dedicated channels, saying that she's exactly the kind of omnipresent media whore who'll jump at the chance to have an online channel dedicated only to her and that her fans are precisely the type of idiots willing to pay to see her. Maybe they didn't use those exact words, but you get the idea.
If you're wondering what makes Jon Klein and Jeff Gaspin uniquely qualified to launch a product like this, it's the keen vision their years of combined experience have given them in the industry. Klein was the technological pioneer who brought you a hologram of Will.I.Am on election night 2008, despite firing almost all of CNN's crucial science and technology division; he was the man who first saw promise in some of the massive talents you still tune in for every day and night at the network, people like Kathleen Parker, Eliot Spitzer, Rick Sanchez and Piers Morgan; he was the way-out-front leader who didn't think to cancel Crossfire until Jon Stewart basically told him to; and he was the man who got himself unceremoniously shit-canned in 2010 for helming CNN during a ratings plunge it has yet to fully come out of.
Jeff Gaspin, meanwhile, was the guy who went to Jeff Zucker personally and asked if he could handle NBC's self-created 10PM "Leno Problem." It was his brilliant idea to try to split the baby in a move that was almost sure to send Conan O'Brien, a marquee star with 17 years of company loyalty, angrily packing. He came up with the pitch to move Jay Leno back to 11:35PM, the Tonight Show's traditional start time, and push Conan back to 12:05AM. We all saw how that turned out. (Actually not terribly bad for NBC financially but it gave the network a PR black eye that remains to this day; between Conan and Ann Curry, what do you think of the way NBC treats its talent?) Gaspin was finally let go almost immediately following the Comcast merger, supposedly because of his penchant for behind-the-scenes politicking and, of course, that $200,000 private bathroom he had installed in his office, the one so big he had to displace two other nearby executives to make it happen.
So, yeah, this TAPP thing should go over like gangbusters. Not only because of the impressive experience Klein and Gaspin have in putting their egos aside and simply creating a good media product, but because of their vast knowledge of the internet. Specifically, internet lingo.
"I think everybody is looking for what the next big disruption in media is going to be. Our investors see TAPP as uniquely positioned to lead that next big disruption."
Spoken like somebody who just finished reading a TechCrunch message board on the train in from Westchester.
Although maybe that can be TAPP's slogan: "Jon Klein and Jeff Gaspin: Disrupting Quality Since 2005."