Jay Tucker (’09) is the new executive director of UCLA Anderson’s Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports. He graduated from Anderson in 2009 and embarked on a career with a certain local competitor school, where, as CMO of the Institute for Communication Technology Management at USC and founder of the Silicon Beach initiative there, he led an interdisciplinary team to launch a $50,000 venture competition combined with a conference focused on innovation, emerging technologies, tech startups and digital entertainment. It’s early days, but Tucker has had his finger firmly on the MEMES pulse (presiding, in fact, over the 2017 Pulse Entertainment, Sports & Technology Conference). He is busy preparing for NextFest, the collaborative cross-disciplinary event with FuturizeX UCLA on March 2.
Q: What in your educational or personal background led you to your current professional interests?
I’ve always had a passion for entertainment and its impact on popular culture, and even taught courses on media literacy before attending business school. My interest in the business of entertainment grew over time as I saw a rapid increase in franchises jumping from publishing to feature films, video games, TV series and other platforms. One of the essential questions I had at the time was whether quality alone was enough to ensure business success for content — in other words, is content really king? Another was the converse: Could exceptional business operations be a substitute for amazing content?
These days, it’s clear that my questions were far less important than the question of how Hollywood would harness innovation and disruptive technologies to delight audiences and finance the next wave of storytelling. But the drive to understand the industry, and the business of storytelling, were a big part of what compelled me to come to UCLA Anderson.
Q: Before starting your MBA, you worked in a range of marketing, tech and educational roles. How did earning your degree enhance or influence the direction of your career in the years to follow?
At Anderson I had the opportunity to connect with industry leaders in film, video games and more. One advantage I brought to the table was deep experience as a technology leader and as a Web developer in the early days of the commercial internet. My time at Anderson coincided with the rise of a number of digital and social media platforms, and some of the business leaders in Hollywood were interested in my perspectives on how technology would impact the industry.