Vistas Media Acquisition Co Inc.
- Media, Entertainment
Abhayanand Singh, our co-founder, has been a member of our board of directors since April 2020. Mr. Singh is the co-founder and group chief executive officer of Vistas Media, a position he has held since April 2018, and has served as a director of JB Ventures Group Ltd., a film financing investment company, since May 2019. Previously, he served as the co-founder and chief executive officer of Indie Muviz Pte. Ltd (“Muviz”), a digital streaming and content production company. He also has experience in the banking, private equity and asset management industries, as a managing director of Pinnacle Fund Management Ltd, an investment management company, from 2010 to 2013, and as an assistant vice president at HSBC from 2005 to 2010. Over the last six years, Mr. Singh’s companies have invested in more than 15 films and series across productions and distributions, which have been released worldwide, including in China and across several leading OTT/Digital platforms globally. Mr. Singh also serves as a director of Sidus Consulting Pte. Ltd., a management consulting company, and Muviz.
Mr. Singh holds an MBA in marketing from Chetana’s Institute of Marketing & Research Mumbai and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Lucknow, India. We believe that Mr. Singh is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his over 16 years of work experience across the banking, hedge fund and M&E industries.
Saurabh Gupta, CAIA, our co-founder, has been a member of our board of directors since May 2020. Mr. Gupta is the founder and managing director of M! Capital Ventures Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based speciality media investments firm and managing partner and director of The Asian Film Fund — Series 1, which is registered in Mauritius as a Global Business Category 1 licensed entity. Over the last five years, his media ventures have invested in over 12 films across productions and distributions, which have been successfully released worldwide including China theatrically and across several leading OTT/digital platforms globally. In his personal capacity, Mr. Gupta has co-produced several additional films in India and Hollywood, which are at different stages of production and due to release over the next 6-12 months. He is a highly experienced banking, asset management and media investments professional with over 20 years of work experience, the majority of which has been spent in leading senior functions within the banking industry, including executive director at Bank Julius Baer, senior director at ANZ Bank, vice president at ABN AMRO Bank and relationship manager at Citibank, and as a senior consultant at Arete Financial Partners, a management consultancy and investment advisory company. Mr. Gupta also serves as a director of CitiState Capital Pte. Ltd, which is the parent investment holding company for his media ventures, SHS Advisors Pte. Ltd., which is a business advisory and consulting firm based in Singapore, and WE Capital Partners Pte. Ltd., which is a wealth management and advisory firm.
Mr. Gupta was an Adjunct Faculty at the Singapore Management University��s School of Business from July 2008 until January 2009, teaching Financial Services Marketing and Wealth Management. He is a qualified Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) from the CAIA Association, and holds an MBA in marketing from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and a B.A. in economics from the University of Delhi, India. We believe that Mr. Gupta is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his rich, extensive and diversified international experience across the banking, asset management, M&E and M&A advisory industries.
F. Jacob Cherian has been our Chief Executive Officer and a member of our board of directors since April 2020. Mr. Cherian co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer and a director of I-AM Capital Acquisition Company Inc. (“I-AM”), a special purpose acquisition company, from August 2017 to February 2019. I-AM completed a $50 million initial public offering in August 2017 and completed a business combination in December 2018, listing the first e-sports company on Nasdaq (Simplicity Esports & Gaming). Mr. Cherian also served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and director of Millennium India Acquisition Company Inc., a special purpose acquisition company, from March 2006 to October 2013, completing a $58 million initial public offering in July 2006. Millennium India completed a business combination with SMC, an India-headquartered leading diversified financial services company with over 2,500 locations in over 500 cities serving approximately 1.7 million customers in India and the Middle East. Mr. Cherian’s prior work and experience with JP Morgan & Co., as a director at KPMG LLP and as Partner at Computer Sciences Corp., a Fortune 500 global information technology & services company spans 15 years and three continents of Europe, Middle East and South Asia.
Mr. Cherian holds a B.A. in Accounting & Information Systems from Queens College of CUNY and an MBA in International Finance from St. John’s University. He has also served as Adjunct Professor of Finance at the Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University’s MBA Program for ten years. Mr. Cherian has served as a member of the board of directors on a number of public and private and not-for profit boards. We believe Mr. Cherian’s extensive executive experience and leadership in global related business transactions, in particular his experience in SPAC transactions, qualifies him to serve on our board of directors.
Nagarajan Venkatesan has been our Chief Financial Officer since April 2020. Mr. Venkatesan has 33 years of experience in corporate accounting, finance, taxation and auditing and is currently the chief financial officer of Vistas Media Capital. For the last six years, he has maintained an independent practice, in his individual capacity, in internal/forensic audits. Prior to beginning his independent practice, Mr. Venkatesan served as a member of the board of directors of Getax International Pte. Ltd., a chemicals and fertilizer trading company from April 2009 to January 2014 and as the Chief Financial Officer of Getax Ocean Trades Pte. Ltd., a trading company from June 2008 to April 2009. He also held numerous audit, accounting and finance positions from 1990 to 2008, including finance manager of Rutledge Global E&P Pte. Ltd., an investment company, audit manager at MGI N Rajan Associates, an accounting firm, senior audit and tax associate at M/s B.P.Yap & Co, an accounting firm, and accountant at M/s Primefield Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a software company. Mr. Venkatesan received a Post Graduate in Commerce specialization in professional accounting from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia in 2005, a Bachelor degree in commerce from the University of Madras, India in 1987 and a Bachelor degree in general law from Annamalai University, India in 1991.
Benjamin Waisbren will serve on our board of directors following the closing of this offering. Mr. Waisbren has been the principal of Virtually There Holdings LLC d/b/a Ben Waisbren & Associates since April 2014, which advises media companies and firms involved in distressed situations. From April 2014 through December 2017, he was President of LSC Film Corporation as part of Virtually There’s management agreement with LSC, which co-financed production of 30 major motion pictures released by Sony Pictures. He was executive producer for over 40 motion pictures. From March 2019 to February 2020, Mr. Waisbren served as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Restructuring Officer of NanoMech Inc., a nanotechnology company that he led through a Chapter 11 case and its sale to a global company. Mr. Waisbren was an attorney, with a national bankruptcy practice, as a Partner at Lord Bissell & Brook LLP (now Locke Lord LLP) from May 1990 to May 1995, and later practiced law as a Partner at Winston & Strawn LLP from March 2013 to July 2017. Before and after his retirement from Winston & Strawn, he was engaged by the U.S. Department of Justice in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad money laundering matter as a film industry expert and financial advisor until September 2018. He was also on the Supervisory Board of Wild Bunch AG, a German-listed, Paris-based award-winning film co-production and distribution company, from May 2013 to February 2019. Mr. Waisbren was the founder and president of Continental Entertainment Capital LP in 2007 and was employed as a Managing Director at Salomon Brothers Inc. from May 1995 to June 1998 to lead its global restructuring advisory group in the M&A Department.
Mr. Waisbren earned a B.A. in English from Boston University in 1979 and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1982. We believe that Mr. Waisbren is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his legal background and extensive experience in capital restructuring, special situation and private equity investing, leveraged and structured finance and major motion picture production and finance.
Dr. Klaas Baks, Ph.D. will serve on our board of directors following the closing of this offering. Dr. Baks is the Co-Founder and Director of the Emory Center for Alternative Investments and has been a finance professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School since September 2002. He teaches courses in private equity, venture capital and distressed investing and has been recognized with nine awards, including Emory University’s highest award for teaching excellence, the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, the Marc F. Adler Prize for Teaching Excellence awarded by alumni and the Donald R. Keough Award for Excellence. Since October 2014, Dr. Baks has served as the Atlanta Chair for Tiger 21, a peer-to-peer learning network for high-net-worth investors whose members manage more than $50 billion and are entrepreneurs, inventors and top executives focused on improving investment acumen and exploring common issues of wealth preservation, estate planning and family dynamics. Dr. Baks also serves as a director or advisor for various companies and investment funds, including American Virtual Cloud Technologies (NASDAQ: AVCT) (since July 2017) – acquired through a SPAC business combination, Buckhead One Financial (since January 2018), JOYN (from May 2017 to March 2020), Peachtree Hotel Group (since August 2016), Backend Benchmarking (since April 2018) and TWO Capital Partners (since September 2009). Dr. Baks also has served on the Investment Committee of the Westminster Schools Board of Trustees since September 2017. Prior to joining Emory University, he held positions at Fuji Bank in Tokyo, Japan, Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Dr. Baks’s research and teaching focuses on issues in alternative investments, entrepreneurial finance and investment management, and he has published papers in numerous academic and business journals, including the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Baks studied at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, during which he spent two years at Harvard University as part of his doctoral research on the performance of actively managed mutual funds, and earned a Ph.D. in finance. He also earned a Master of Arts in economics from Brown University, a Master of Science in econometrics, cum laude from Groningen University and a diploma in Japanese language and business studies from Leiden University. We believe Dr. Baks is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his extensive investment fund advisory experience and extensive knowledge and experience on issues in alternative investments, entrepreneurial finance and investment management.
Marc Iyeki will serve on our board of directors following the closing of this offering. Mr. Iyeki has been a Senior Consultant to Global Markets Advisory Group since July 2020 and an expert network consultant at Capvisions since June 2020. Mr. Iyeki was Senior Advisor — APAC, Global Listings, at the NYSE from February 2020 to May 2020, advising on matters including capital markets, exchange compliance, federal securities regulations, and marketing. Before that, Mr. Iyeki held various other senior roles including Chief Representative, NYSE Beijing Representative Office, from January 2019 to February 2020, Regional Head — Asia Pacific, from 2014 to January 2019, and Managing Director — Asia Pacific, from 2004 to 2014, during which time he developed and managed NYSE relationships with over 120 listed companies, including leading start-ups and Global 500 companies. Previously, from May 1987 to February 1999, Mr. Iyeki held attorney positions, including Trial Counsel, at the enforcement division of the NYSE, investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of NYSE and SEC rules and regulations. Before that, from January 1985 to May 1987, he was an Assistant Deputy Public Advocate at the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate. Mr. Iyeki has been a speaker on capital markets matters at professional and academic forums in the US and throughout Asia. He also authored an NYSE blog: “Asia Pacific Markets,” sharing his insights and providing practical advice for professionals interested in the Asia Pacific issuer community.
Mr. Iyeki attended Austin College and earned a B.A., cum laude, with honors in Economics, from Washington University in St. Louis, and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law (where he was on the editorial staff of the N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change). He also studied public policy in the master’s program for one year at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Samuel Fels Fellow. We believe that Mr. Iyeki is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his extensive capital markets and compliance experience, legal background and strong industry relationships amongst listed and private companies which is anticipated to be important when identifying the targets and conducting due diligence on the targets for our initial business combination.
Abhinav Somani will serve on our board of directors following the closing of this offering. Since July 2019, Mr. Somani has been the Managing Director of artificial intelligence software products at MRI Software, LLC, a global company that provides real estate and investment management software to real estate owners, investors, and operators. Mr. Somani was the Chief Executive Officer of Leverton Corporation, a global artificial intelligence SaaS company that was sold to MRI Software, LLC, from February 2017 to July 2019. From August 2014 to February 2017, he was the Senior Vice President of business development at smartShift Technologies, LLC, an enterprise software and services company specializing in upgrades to high-performance, next-generation computing environments, including moves from on-premise to cloud, relational data to big data and platform-to-platform. Prior to that, Mr. Somani was an associate at ICV Partners and American Securities from August 2012 to July 2014 where he worked with portfolio companies to improve their sales, enhance marketing, turn around ailing business segments, and increase operational efficiencies. He was also an investment banking analyst at Rothschild & Co. from July 2009 to July 2012 where he worked in equity capital markets and mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Somani earned a B.S. in Finance, Management and International Business from New York University. We believe that Mr. Somani is well qualified to serve on our board of directors due to his extensive experience in the private equity and equity capital markets space, including IPO and secondary offerings capital raises, investor marketing and public relations, financial valuation analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and operational management of acquired companies.
Special Advisors and Associate
Sergei Bespalov will serve as a special advisor to the Company following the closing of this offering. He has 28 years of experience in business and legal consulting through numerous board and advisory board positions for multinational businesses across various industries, including real estate, entertainment, gaming, trading, natural resources, medical, sports and legal. Mr. Bespalov is the Founder and Co-Chairman of Aldamisa Entertainment, LLC, a film production company that has produced and released more than twenty films with total budgets close to $500 million since March 2011. Almost all of its movies have received numerous international nominations and awards, including an Oscar nomination. He is also the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of iCapital Global Fund, a Los Angeles based private equity firm focusing on investments in the media, gaming and real estate sectors, since March 2011. His experience in the legal field include roles as Of Counsel at Law Offices of Marks & Sokolov LLC since September 2016 and Managing Partner at Law Offices of Sergei Bespalov & Associates since September 1997. Mr. Bespalov earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Temple University and a J.D. from Widener University School of Law.
Jayesh Parekh will serve as a special advisor to the Company following the closing of this offering. Mr. Parekh is a co-founder of Sony Entertainment Television, a major television network of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which he exited in 2013. Mr. Parekh has several years of experience serving on board and advisory board positions. He is on the Board and Investment Committee of social impact funds Aavishkaar India II Fund, Aavishkaar Africa Fund and Aavishkaar Frontier Fund (since September 2011) and the board of Sanctum Wealth Management (since February 2016), One Animation and Milaap Social Ventures (since July 2013). He is on the Advisory Board of Akhand Jyoti Eye Hospital since October 2017 and is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD since January 2007. Mr. Parekh has also held senior positions at pan-Asian venture capital technology fund Jungle Ventures, where he was a Managing Partner for Jungle Ventures Fund I and II, from January 2013 to December 2018 and is currently a Senior Advisor since December 2018. He is also a board and charter member of TiE Singapore and a member of AngelList and Indian Angel Network. Previously, Mr. Parekh was a sales/systems engineer from December 1981 to August 1993 at IBM and was part of the team that brought IBM back to India. He also authored “What Shall We Do with All This Money?”, exploring perspectives on money and wealth. Mr. Parekh attended Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He also earned a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
Daniel Dos Santos will serve as a special advisor to the Company following the closing of this offering. Mr. Santos is a senior management professional and entrepreneur with 19 years of experience in capital markets, delivering projects and international teams spanning four countries and developing C-level relationships with CEOs at leading e-commerce firms and Fintechs. Mr. Santos has served as the Managing Director of Digitizing Assets since December 2018 where his key focus is on private placements developing digital assets and their ecosystem in Asia and the Americas. He also previously served as Chief Executive Officer at Blockchain Labs and as Business Manager at Standard Chartered Bank managing retail business. Prior to that, Mr. Santos worked in the financial services industry including roles at RBS, Renaissance Capital, Citigroup in London, Barclays Investment Bank, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. Mr. Santos earned a B. Sc. in international securities and banking from the Henley Business School.
Piiyush Singh will serve as a special advisor to the Company following the closing of this offering. Mr. Singh has over 12 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry, including production experience of more than 600 hours of content. Mr. Singh is the Co-Founder of Vistas Media Capital where he runs the India business. He oversees the development and production of feature films, short films, and web series in India for the film production and distribution entity Golden Ratio Films Pte. Ltd. Singapore (“Golden Ratio Films”), a subsidiary of Vistas Media Capital, since February 2019. He has independently run Muviz since February 2016 and has been the Director of Mindscope Pictures Pvt. Ltd., a line production company servicing film and digital content productions in India, since September 2019. Mr. Singh has also been a partner of Diquery Digital LLP since May 2015 and a director of Inmuvi Entertainment Ventures Pvt. Ltd. since December 2015. Mr. Singh has developed and acquired close to 25 scripts and projects for feature films and web series, which are scheduled to be produced and distributed in the next three years under Golden Ratio Films. Mr. Singh also serves as the Co-Chairperson of the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (SG.SAIFF). Mr. Singh is a B.A. Honors Graduate in Economics, Anthropology and Philosophy from Canning College, Lucknow University, India.
Dhruv Saxena will serve as an associate of the Company following the closing of this offering. Mr. Saxena is a seasoned management consultant with over seven years of experience in media, technology and private equity across Asia, Europe and the United States and specializing in value creation and performance improvement. Mr. Saxena was a consultant at Bain & Company (“Bain”) from January 2014 to May 2019 and from October 2019 to December 2019. He also maintained Bain’s United States Media Point of View IP, was a founding member of the TMT Centre in China, and worked extensively on OTT strategies for telecommunications and cable companies. As part of Bain’s private equity practice, he drove due diligence across media and technology for clients including The Carlyle Group, TPG, Bain Capital and Tiger Global. Mr. Saxena is currently an MBA candidate at INSEAD focusing on finance and decision sciences.