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Marcus Bicknell - biography

Marcus Bicknell is a marketing executive in the television, leisure, internet and consumer products fields.   Whilst possessing many classic business attributes and a wide experience of many European markets, his particular skill is in the product positioning and communication needed in their start-up phase of ambitious and complex consumer projects such as satellite television channels and mobile telephone applications.

After a formal education in Great Britain culminating in 1969 in an Honours Degree M.A. in Physical Anthropology at Cambridge University, Marcus Bicknell chose a career in the rock music industry.   He managed Genesis and booked concerts for groups round Europe before joining CBS Records for whom he worked in the European artist marketing area in London, Paris and Frankfurt from 1972 to 1976.   He was hired by A&M Records, the largest private record company, to set up a European operation based in Paris and took a $3m business to $45m in 7 years, maximising record sales of new artists like Supertramp, Police and Chris de Burgh.

From late 1983 he was Head of Marketing in London for Thorn EMI's Cable Programming and was part of team which set up the  Premiere film channel, The Children's Channel and Music Box.   He concentrated on network and marketing for Music Box, Europe's all-day music television channel (which later became NBC SuperChannel), achieving distribution via satellite into 4.5 million homes and in 13 countries by 1985. From 1986 to 1990 Marcus Bicknell was Commercial Director of Société Européenne des Satellites, the Luxembourg company which brought successful direct-to-home satellite television to Europe with ASTRA in 1988 and the co-location of others since. This multi-channel system has filled the need for more powerful distribution of new TV channels into blocks of flats and private homes, but at a lower cost than high-power 3-5 channel DBS. He handled with a small team all commercial aspects of the company including product-positioning, strategy, reception equipment, marketing in the U.K. and on the continent, publicity, clients and new investors. Rupert Murdoch was the first to commit to ASTRA in June 1988 when he purchased 10 years use of four transponders to launch Sky Television in the U.K. in February 1989.  While up to 1988 the regulatory and commercial obstacles to a private satellite venture were considered unsurmountable, SES's communications skills and methodical insistence upon ASTRA's superior service offering to broadcasters and to consumers turned a "paper satellite" into a company which was highly profitable in its first operating year.

The instinct to drive his own enterprises led Marcus Bicknell to set up Vision Industries S.A. in early 1991 based in France's high tech site Sophia Antipolis near Nice. He played a focal role in establishing in 1992 the Vision Consultancy Group, a network of similar companies with independent media technology expertise round Europe. The group's references include some of the top media and communications companies in Europe such as British Sky Broadcasting, Central TV, Channel 4, the European Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry (UK), Deutsche Telekom, and the successful Australian film Strictly Ballroom. In addition to consultancy and operational assignments for the BBC, British Telecom ADSL VOD, Columbia Pictures International, Discovery Channel, FilmNet, France Télécom, The Luxembourg Government, The Italian Government, Maxat, NetHold, Pearson, The Red Cross, Schlumberger Smart Cards, Scientific Atlanta, Travel Channel, VISION 1250 and ASTRA,  he was in TF1's team for the re-launch of Eurosport  when they acquired the channel from News International. He guided launch P.R., marketing and media promotion, and chaired the Board, of Video Technology Marketing Ltd., the company which successfully launched the VideoPlus+® instant video programmer in the U.K. in December 1991.

From June 1995 to October 1997 Marcus Bicknell was Managing Director of European Channel Management Ltd in London, the joint venture of BBC Worldwide, Pearson Television and Cox of Atlanta for the distribution of the television channels BBC World and BBC Prime in continental Europe.  With a head-count of 15 in London, a dozen on the continent, and £30m of risk capital, the company secured cable distribution of the channels, marketing, airtime sales in the case of BBC World and subscription income in the case of BBC Prime. The operation was already an acknowledged success when he left: BBC World was in 30 million homes in Germany, Scandinavia, France and the Mediterranean and was awarded a much-sought-after terrestrial frequency in Berlin. Many of the pan-European blue-chip advertisers and sponsors associated their brands with that of the BBC for the first time. BBC Prime doubled it number of paying viewers to 5 million homes by September 1997 and was in profit by 1999.

From October 1997 to October 2001 Marcus Bicknell was President, Europe, of Boston-based CMGI Inc. which invests in and integrates advanced Internet, interactive media and database management technologies. The company's @Ventures investment and development affiliate has had investment interests in Lycos, Blaxxun, Ikonic, GeoCities, Vicinity, Silknet, Parable, KOZ and others. The 100% owned CMG companies include: AltaVista, MyWay, Engage Technologies, Equilibrium, NaviSite, and SalesLink. The European office handled prospection for opportunities with major partners in Europe for its newer US products.

Marcus first invested in what was to become the internet back in 1978 through a shareholding in International Management Communications Inc., the user group for rock bands and record companies on ITT-Dialcom and Telecom Gold. He has consistently promoted the inevitability of convergence of internet technologies with digital television. From February 2002 for a year Marcus was seconded from Zouk Ventures Ltd. to their Finnish investment Oplayo oy, the world's first driverless video streaming engine for internet and mobile. In 2004/5 he was sales director of mTrack Services Ltd (whose KidsOK product enables parents to locate their children by mobile phone) where he remains a shareholder, moving in 2006 to the European licensor of the i_kids mobile phone with GPS, SF Alert BV.,Netherlands in a sales strategy role. In May 2005 he was appointed to the board of SES Global  (Astra) in Luxembourg, the world's biggest operator of television satellites. In 2006 he is also in a confidential role in the broadcast sector for one of the world’s largest computer software and hardware companies.

Marcus Bicknell was born in a suburb of Washington D.C. in the USA in 1948, is a British national, has lived in 7 countries and speaks German and French. He lives with his wife Susie, 2 children, 4 dogs, 2 horses and 20 acres in the Chilterns. He is a member of the Institute of Directors and of the Garrick Club, is a private pilot with instrument qualifications, holds a National A motor racing license, undertakes corporate speaking engagements. As Chairman of the Hodgemoor Riding Association he is joint winner of the British Horse Society's 2004 Access Award, and he's a Governor of Thorpe House School in Gerrards Cross.
       May 2006

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