Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jeff Berg joins the NTN Buzztime corporate fun

NTN Buzztime the company continues to retool. On August 19, they announced a change to the Board of Directors:

NTN Buzztime Appoints Jeff Berg to Board of Directors

CARLSBAD, Calif., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- NTN Buzztime, Inc. (Amex: NTN), today announced that the Board of Directors has been increased to six members adding new media executive Jeffrey A. Berg. Mr. Berg has been appointed to serve as an independent member of the Company's Board of Directors, effective August 19, 2008.

Mr. Berg, a significant shareholder of NTN Buzztime, Inc. is currently Chairman of and lead investor in Surfline/Wavetrak Inc., an action sports web site. In 1999, he co-founded Swell, a direct marketer of surf apparel and accessories, and is currently its lead Director and largest shareholder. He is also founder and owner of Airborne Media LLC, a specialty media company which operates web sites and publishes magazines and other niche-market print products. All told, he has over 12 years' experience in founding, chairing and/or holding lead investor positions in new media companies and taking 'hands-on' roles in contributing to their success.

Between 1995 and 2000, Mr. Berg was Chairman of AccentHealth. He led its financing and strategic development from its pilot phase to a network now providing segmented, patient education-oriented TV programming to over 10,000 medical waiting rooms. AccentHealth programming reaches 11.7 million consumers every month.

Mr. Berg has over 20 years' experience as a professional investor, having founded Matador Capital Management in 1993, and before that working for 9 years at Raymond James Financial as an institutional securities analyst. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Florida and certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Commenting on the appointment of Mr. Berg, Michael Fleming, Chairman of the Board and interim Chief Executive Officer said, "We are very pleased to welcome Jeff Berg to the Board of Directors. Anchored by his success as an investment professional, he has practical new media experience and relevant success with advertising supported networks. The expertise and vision he has shown in leading multiple new media ventures to success will prove uniquely valuable to our management team in charting the way forward for NTN Buzztime."

The addition of Berg to the expanded sixth seat is a concrete demonstration of the company's commitment to bringing new talent to the Board of Directors. It is anticipated that the Board will include two or three new directors by next year's annual meeting.

Now that last statement is an interesting twist. Are they talking about expanding the board further, or are some board members planning to depart (one way or another)? Here are the other board members:

Gary H. Arlen was appointed as a Director in August 1999. Since 1980, he has been president of Arlen Communications, Inc., a research and consulting firm specializing in interactive information, transactions, telecommunications and entertainment. Arlen Communications provides research and analytical services to domestic and international organizations in entertainment, media, telecommunications and Internet industries. Mr. Arlen was a founder and board member of several interactive media trade associations. He is a member of the Academy of Digital TV Pioneers and the Cable TV Pioneers.

Barry Bergsman has been a Director since August 1998 and was appointed lead director in August, 2004. He is president of Baron Enterprises, Inc., a privately owned consulting company established in 1965. As president of Intertel Communications, Inc., from 1985 to 1998, Mr. Bergsman pioneered the use of the telephone and interactive technology for promotion, entertainment and information. Prior to 1985, Mr. Bergsman was engaged in television production and syndication and was an executive with CBS. He currently serves as a director and member of the management team of Photogenesis, Inc., a private medical device and biotechnology company.

Robert B. Clasen has been a Director since November 2001. Currently he is President and CEO for Starz Entertainment Media Group, the largest provider of premium movie services in the United States. He was appointed to this position in December 2004, previously serving as President of Sales and Marketing since September 2003 and President and COO since May 2004. For most of the past ten years, Mr. Clasen has been President and CEO of Clasen Associates, an advisor to a broad range of technology and service companies who operate in the broadband, wireless and satellite sectors.

Joseph J Farricielli, Jr. was appointed a Director in December 2007. He is currently a Senior Vice President of Fidelity National Special Opportunities, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial, Inc. Mr. Farricielli also serves as a director of three privately held companies, Look Investment Agency, Inc., Recycling Enterprises, Inc. and Hamden Sand & Stone, Inc. Previously, Mr. Farricielli held executive positions at Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, LLC; Imperial Capital, LLC; The Bank of Nova Scotia, and GE Capital Services.

Michael Fleming was appointed a Director in November 2001. Mr. Fleming is currently chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Fleming Media Group, advising a broad range of content and technology companies on interactive television, broadband, wireless and other convergent technology opportunities. He is the founder and recent past-President of Game Show Network, a satellite delivered television programming service dedicated to the world of games and game play. Mr. Fleming has held senior executive positions at Playboy Entertainment Group, ESPN, Turner Broadcasting and Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company. He was inducted into the Cable Pioneers in 1999.

Back to Berg. A corporate filing provided additional information:

There were no arrangements or understanding between Mr. Berg and any other person pursuant to which he was selected as a director.

On August 19, 2008, in accordance with the Board compensation provisions with respect to new directors as currently in effect, Mr. Berg was granted options to purchase 30,000 shares of the Company’s Common Stock pursuant to the Company’s 2004 Performance Incentive Plan (the “Plan”). One half of these option shares are immediately vested and exercisable. The remaining shares vest and become exercisable in equal installments each month immediately subsequent to the date of grant and up to the date of the next annual meeting of shareholders, which is expected to occur in or about May 2008 [SIC]. The option shares are subject to full acceleration of vesting upon a change of control event (as defined in the Plan).

But can Berg make NTN Buzztime, in a word, kewl? Here's a description of his current company, Surfline:

Welcome to -- the most comprehensive surf-related web site on the Internet. We're not talking about the kind of "surfing" done by Uncle Fester-looking cyberheads; we're talking about the kind done by real surfers -- those of us who do it in the ocean, on wind-borne waves, and who frequently suffer from such unsightly ailments as saltwater sinus drain, bone-clogged ear canals, sandpaper-like eyeball pimples and dermatological sun damage of the highest order.

We were hesitant to use a superlative such as "most comprehensive" in that first sentence up yonder, but we're confident that it's true. Spend a few hours browsing around and we guarantee you won't even come close to getting to the end of every cul-de-sac on the site. We have compiled close to half a million words and 1,500 images and video clips. We have also spent much time and energy trying to organize that content in a way that's at once utilitarian and stylish, intuitive and surprising, simple and complex. Our goal is simple: we want to pin you to your chair at the same time that we inspire you to get out of it. And once you decide to get wet, we want to help you figure out where to go, when to go, how to get there and what to ride.

But Berg presumably realizes that NTN Buzztime needs the casual gamers to survive, and can't limit itself to the boss trivia d00dz.

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