Michael Fisher

Michael Fisher ’04: The Evolution of Content Consumption

As senior director of business development for Sling Media, Michael Fisher thrives on the cutting edge of the dynamic content consumption industry. Founded in 2004, Sling Media, Inc. specializes in audio and video placeshifting technology. Its innovative, Emmy award–winning products allowing consumers to watch their home TV from virtually anywhere across the globe.

“I feel extremely lucky to be at this intersection of amazing technology and compelling user experiences,” says Fisher.

What drives you in your work?

How we consume video content has evolved tremendously in recent years. Technologies and business models and, to some extent, the content itself have all changed. Add to this the Internet, broadband connected devices and the mass proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and the idea of “watching TV” isn’t so simple anymore. The opportunities to connect people to the content they love—and to each other—are tremendous. It’s a very exciting time to be in this space. 

I head up business development for Sling Media in the U.S. We deliver solutions that allow users to consume their home television content—Live TV, DVR and VOD—on any connected device, around the home or around the world. Imagine being stuck in a hotel in Asia with a burning need to watch Jon Stewart. We can help with that.

Where has your career taken you, and where is it headed?

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in operations, product and marketing roles, but I have to say, I really enjoy business development. At Sling Media, I’m required to wear many hats and the role allows me to be very entrepreneurial. I feel extremely lucky to be at this intersection of amazing technology and compelling user experiences.

How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?

My time at the GSM impacted me in two ways. First, the focus on team-oriented assignments and projects really helped prepare me for real-world situations. This approach helped me to hone an influence-driven leadership style versus, say, a management-by-edict style. 

Another area stems from my leveraging GSM’s product and strategy prowess. I’m a bit of a geek on this stuff, so my courses with Professors Hargadon, Swaminathan, Elsbach and Breyer among others all helped shape my thinking about innovation, the organization and marketing new products.

What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?

A year ago I lost my girlfriend, Rashell, to metastatic breast cancer. To help remember a life that touched so many of us, her friends and I created the Rashell Young Fellowship (RFY) at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, her alma mater. The RFY works with UC Berkeley to fund projects for healthcare-focused grad students. The students pitch ideas like HPV vaccination in South Africa or diabetes testing in Oakland. Working with the Master of Public Health group at Berkeley, RYF will pick one or two projects each year and fund them.

The goals are twofold. One, underwriting these smart, motivated and creative students can generate real, tangible healthcare good for people who might otherwise not get that service.  Two, the program brings these future healthcare leaders intimately close with people in real need. It’s our belief that these experiences will impact the fellows, affect what they value and the quality of judgments they make down the road.

We’re actively fundraising, including a recent RYF team triathlon. In the six months since our founding, we’re pleased to have raised $160,000, but our goals are much higher.

Your favorite Graduate School of Management memory? 

There are many great memories. One that stands out has to be the final session in Professor Nicole Biggart’s Experiential Approaches to Management course. We met at Professor Biggart’s beautiful home overlooking a valley in Vacaville. Of course, we had our final assignments to turn in and presentations to make—there was schoolwork to be done, for sure—but this was also a potluck with tons of great food. Plus, at the end of class, we all watched Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference finals. Sadly, the Kings lost to the Lakers.

How do you support and participate in the School now?

Though living in the Bay Area makes it a little tough to stay in touch, I still cherish the relationships I formed during my time at the GSM. As for connection to the School itself, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dean’s Distinguished Speakers Series—I attended these even before I enrolled in the GSM. I try to catch speakers at the San Ramon campus, as well as any GSM function held in the Bay Area, and recently gave to the Annual Fund. Lastly—and I’m not sure this counts as “continued support”—but I still have every book, course reader and notes from all my classes. You never know when you might need them.