peoplepill id: ernesto-schmitt
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Ernesto Schmitt
German businessperson

Ernesto Schmitt

Ernesto Schmitt
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German businessperson
Is Businessperson
From Germany
Type Business
Gender male
Birth August 1971, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Age 50 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Ernesto Gottfried Schmitt (born August 1971) is a German-Uruguayan entrepreneur and investor based in the United Kingdom. In 1999, he founded Peoplesound – the first digital music streaming service and one of the top 10 visited websites, later going on to found Silverscreen, the first specialist DVD high street retailer.

More recently, he founded Beamly, the second screen service, and DriveTribe alongside Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson. Schmitt also co-founded Fabula AI, which was sold to Twitter in June 2019. He is co-founder of The Craftory, an investment group for challenger brands in the consumer products space.

Early life & education

Schmitt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a Vice-President at Procter and Gamble. His maternal Grandparents are the Uruguayan actress Nelly Weissel and artist Juan Fernando Vieytes Pérez, he is also descended from the Schmitt family on his father's side. Schmitt grew up in Brussels and Mexico. His father was from Germany, and his mother from Uruguay.

After attending high school in Brussels, Schmitt enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Cambridge, studying engineering and subsequently graduating top of Cambridge. He holds a Master of the Arts from Cambridge (BA/MA). After a year consulting for Boston Consulting Group, Schmitt received a Master of Business Administration (MBA), with distinction from INSEAD in Fontainbleau, France.

Business career

After studying at INSEAD, Schmitt moved to London where he continued to consult for Boston Consulting Group, until he started his first company, Peoplesound.


Schmitt founded Peoplesound, an online music store and streaming service in 1999 and ran it until 2001, when acquired by Vitaminic Peoplesound was one of the earliest platforms for digital music in the world.It offered customers two  free songs from every band as a taster and then invite customers to create their own compilations in CD Realaudio or MP3 format. It also famously offered artists £100 to join. The business primarily focused on observing user behaviour around their engagement with music to help the music industry better understand and target consumers. Peoplesound raised money based on a valuation of around £70m, from investors including Finnish wireless communications operator Sonera Corporation and venture capital firm Zouk Ventures. Earlier backers include French billionaire Bernard Arnault's [email protected]

Peoplesound's Italian-owned rival music website, Vitaminic, bought Peopleound in 2001 in a deal worth €34m (£20m). The deal was financed partly with cash and partly with the issuing of 1.3 million new Vitaminic shares to Peoplesound shareholders. Peoplesound retained its brand name and website. Schmitt was quoted as saying to the BBC, "The combination of massive online distribution, e-commerce, music publishing, commercial licensing and value-added services resulting from the merger of the two companies means we will take leadership in the technology revolution reshaping the traditional music industry."


Schmitt founded Silverscreen in 2003 alongside Sebastian James. Starting from an initial six stores in 2003, Silverscreen was the United Kingdom's first specialist DVD high street retailer offering an extensive selection of chart and non-chart products.

Apax backed the original launch of Silverscreen in 2003 with £3.5m of funding and followed it up with a secondary fundraising of £20m in 2004 to help finance the company's ambitious plans to open 160 stores. The company received ~£33M total in funding and turnover in excess of £85 million.

Beamly & Zeebox

In April 2011 Schmitt founded the Zeebox second screen service, later renamed Beamly, along with Anthony Rose who had previously headed up the BBC iPlayer project between 2007 and 2011.

The service was original launched in October 2011 by Zeebox Limited, a British company, originally called tBone.

In January 2012, BSkyB bought a stake in Zeebox and announced plans to integrate the software with its offering. In September 2012, Zeebox announced expansion into the US with a commercial partnership with Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, Viacom and HBO. Comcast, NBCU and Viacom also took minority equity stakes for undisclosed sums. In November 2012, zeebox launched a joint venture in Australia with Network Ten and Foxtel.,

In October 2015, Beamly was acquired by Coty, Inc. for an undisclosed amount.


DriveTribe is an automotive online community platform founded by Schmitt, alongside The Grand Tour presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. The platform features different automotive-themed 'tribes' which people can join, post to, live chat with members of and share content on The website launched in November 2016 with a few selected tribe members. Financing for DriveTribe came from, among others 21st Century Fox and Breyer Capital, who have invested respectively $6.5 and $5.5 million in the platform.

The Craftory

Schmitt Co-Founded The Craftory, a global investment house based in London with Elio Leoni Sceti as an alternative to traditional Venture Capital. The current fund size is $375 million in permanent capital and the firm only invests in ‘Challenger Brands'.

Other Positions

Schmitt previously worked for EMI Music as President of EMI Music's catalogue division and President of Global Marketing.

Fabula AI

Schmitt Co-Founded Fabula AI, which aimed to solve the problem of online disinformation, or 'Fake News' by looking at how it spreads on social networks On 3 June 2019, Twitter announced its acquisition of Fabula AI for an undisclosed sum.

Personal life

He has two children, living in London

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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