Ashley Highfield leaves Project Kangaroo

By November 11, 2008 2 Comments

Ashley Highfield, recruited four months ago from the BBC to run Project Kangaroo announced yesterday he was leaving to join Microsoft.  For those that don’t know Kangaroo is a collaboration between the UK terrestrial broadcasters to bring an online video service to market – a UK Hulu if you like.

Microsoft are doing some interesting things at the moment, including some interesting cloud initiatives I am hearing about at LibraryHouse Mediatech as I write, but I doubt they could offer much to Ashley that would compare favourably with running a successful Project Kangaroo.

The key word here is successful, and there is an interesting qoute from Ashley in the FT this morning:

If for any reason Kangaroo didn’t happen I’d be kicking myself for ever that I didn’t take the Microsoft job.

That says to me he has severe doubts that it will happen.

And I say that in spite of the other Ashley quote saying it was the pull of the Microsoft job rather than anything at Kangaroo which made his mind up.

Collaborations between media companies have a mixed history, as the success of Hulu and the failure of Spiral Frog demonstrate.  Kangaroo has been mired in regulatory problems for a while and this news makes it more likely that it is Spiral Frog they will be emulating.

This is a big deal for the future of video in these Fair Isles.  As a consumer this is unequivocally bad news – it will simply be longer before content comes online.  As an investor it leaves open the big opportunity to be the company that everyone goes to to get their video, but it pushes out the opportunity for ancilliary services like an online EPG.