After a long career in program and advertising sales, Robert Wussler is moving into the financial business as executive director of asset management company Manhattan West.
In his new post, Wussler will help attract clients and use his experience to advise the firm on making investments in technology, media and telecom companies.
Wussler, whose father, also named Robert, helped Ted Turner found CNN, most recently had been VP, sales and integration for 21st Century Fox’s Twentieth Television unit. He and his team were eliminated after Fox sold its assets, including Twentieth Television to the Walt Disney Co.
Before that, he held posts at NBC Universal, Paramount, Turner, Genesis Entertainment and Blair Television.
Manhattan West is based in Los Angeles. In addition to asset management, the firm has an Alternatives platform leveraging expertise in real estate, venture capital, private equity and private debt and a Solutions Group offering a variety of customized solutions including family office services, business management, insurance, and tax.
By hiring Wussler, it is establishing a New York footprint.
“I’ve known and collaborated with Rob for decades and his analytical approach as well as the skill sets he brings – in developing client relationships, building business portfolios and evaluating broad trends, among others – are ideal for our mission and will be invaluable as we grow our firm.” said Lorenzo Esparza, chief executive officer and founding principal of Manhattan West.
Wussler said he’s had a long relationship with Esparza. “I’ve been a client of his for 10-plus years. I participated in many of his funds and it had good success,” he said.
Wussler said Manhattan West hasn’t yet invested in any media or ad tech companies yet. “At the moment, we’re actively pursuing several right now,” he said.
The firm avoids investments in startups. “On every phone call I’ve been on with [Esparza], he says ‘the last thing I’m ever going to want to do is report to a client that I’ve lost their money,’” Wussler said. “The investment strategy is typically for companies that are early stage, but are producing revenues, so there’s a calculation into future that has some reality to it.”
As he makes a transition from showbiz to Wall Street, Wussler said there are some similarities. In both cases you have to do your homework.
“When you walked into an ad agency, you had to know where they invested their media spend, what was good and what was not, and stitch together a better plan for them with what you could bring to the table,” he said.
“The same is true with investment strategy and the same is true with the private equity investment targets we’re looking at,” he said. “It always comes down to the capabilities of analyzing data and understanding the features and benefits of the various products.”
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