Startups to Publishing Companies Ripe for Expansion: What Are Investors in the Publishing Sector Looking For?

Moderated by:
Sophie Rochester (The Literary Platform)
Christophe Maire (txtr), Thad McIlroy (, Brian Rich (Catalyst Investors), Valla Vakili (Small Demons), Henrik Werdelin (Prehype)
Manage Astor Ballroom
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Sophie Rochester, Founder of The Literary Platform, moderates this panel of investors, start-ups and established publishers discussing what’s hot, and what trends may be on the way out in the publishing investment ecosystem.

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Sophie Rochester

The Literary Platform

Sophie Rochester worked for publishers 4th Estate and Jonathan Cape (Random House) before moving to the digital agency GT London in 2000. She then moved to Colman Getty working on the Man Booker Prizes and the Hay Festival, before setting up her own consultancy in 2007. She founded The Literary Platform in 2010, a website dedicated to exploring new platforms for literature, which now offers consultancy services for publishers, literary organisations and digital agencies. She is also Director for Fiction Uncovered, a government-backed initiative which helps UK fiction writers find wider audiences.

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Christophe Maire


Christophe F. Maire,
Entrepreneur focusing on product innovation in digital media and mobile. Christophe founded and is currently CEO of, the largest distribution networks for eBooks in Europe (and soon globally). The company partners with mobile operators and device makers to compete in the fast growing digital publishing business.
Christophe was the founder of gate5, a global leader in mobile navigation software, which he sold to Nokia in 2006. Today, Nokia Maps, the unit which emerged from gate5, employs more than 1000 Employees in Berlin. Christophe was also cofounder of, a company which pioneered “checking-in” (and was bought by Nokia in 2008). Christophe is further a co-founder of (phone in browser app) and (topical photo-sharing service). Earlier he built the largest digital film studio on the site of the East German film studio attracting Euro 40m investments from Vivendi, Bertelsmann etc. Christophe attended school in St.Gallen, ESADE and Stanford and worked in Asia for a few years.
A Swiss citizen, Christophe lives in Berlin with his wife and 2 children. Christophe is quite active in the Berlin tech scene and was for instance involved in the build-up of brands4friends, plista, barcoo, readmill, appaware, amen, and soundcloud where he sits on the board.

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Thad McIlroy

Thad McIlroy is an electronic publishing analyst and author based in San Francisco and Vancouver, BC. His site, The Future of Publishing, is the most in-depth on the industry. McIlroy provides consulting services to publishing and media companies, including Apple Computer, Microsoft, Pearson and Xerox.

With over thirty years of experience in the publishing industry (including five years as Program Director for Seybold Seminars), McIlroy is a well-established expert in the technology and marketing issues surrounding electronic publishing, color imaging and the Internet. He has authored a dozen books and over 200 articles on these subjects. McIlroy is on the editorial board of the journal Learned Publishing and the Canadian literary journal, Geist.

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Brian Rich

Catalyst Investors

Brian Rich is managing partner and co-founder of Catalyst Investors, a growth private equity firm focused on tech-enabled sectors including software-as-a-service, digital media, internet infrastructure, wireless communications and business and consumer services. Mr. Rich is responsible for the management and investment policy of the firm, leadership of the Executive Committee and oversees the management of each portfolio company.

Prior to co-founding Catalyst, Mr. Rich founded TD Capital (USA) Inc. where he managed more than $600 million in assets. Before founding TD Capital, Brian was a Managing Director in the bank’s Media, Telecom & Technology Group. Mr. Rich earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

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Valla Vakili

Small Demons

Valla is the CEO and co-founder of Small Demons. Prior to Small Demons he held several positions at Yahoo!, most recently VP Product with the Entertainment Group in Los Angeles. Valla is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and on leave from doctoral studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

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Henrik Werdelin


Henrik Werdelin was previously Entrepreneur in Residence at leading venture capital firm Index Ventures where he identified and sourced investment opportunities and advised portfolio companies. (including: Path, Basno, Seedcamp, Chartbeat and AlterMe)
In 2006, as Chief Creative Officer, Werdelin was part of the team that started and was responsible for visual identity and product development. Before joining Joost, Werdelin was Vice President of Product Development and Strategy for MTV Networks International where he spearheaded the development of many of MTV’s award winning innovative products, including TV formats, broadband channels and mobile games. Prior to joining MTV Networks International, Werdelin made radio documentaries for BBC, worked for MTV Europe as an associated producer and for MTV France, GameOne and MTV Games Europe, where he was responsible for direction and creative strategy. Prior to Henrik’s first tenure at MTV, he founded new media agency tripledash, creating digital strategies and products for major blue chip clients such as BBC Worldwide, Coca-Cola and Walt Disney Television.
Werdelin graduated from Aalborg University in Denmark and received a Masters in Journalism from the University of Westminster. He is a frequent speaker at top-tier business schools and industry forums and has been quoted in numerous publications and media outlets on subjects such as corporate innovation, product design and entrepreneurship. He is Danish but lives in the US, where he recently was named amongst the Top 100 most Creative by the online industry magazine Fast Company.

  • Publishers Weekly
  • Ingram Content Group
  • codeMantra
  • Impelsys Inc.
  • SPi Global
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Blackboard
  • Bowker
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Innodata
  • Jouve North America
  • MarkLogic
  • Newgen KnowledgeWorks
  • Océ North America
  • Temis
  • Aptara
  • Atex
  • LibreDigital
  • Media Services Group
  • MarkLogic
  • Smashwords, Inc.

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Sharon Cordesse at

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