Career path to Google began with early insights from BU Law faculty member


Jonathan Zepp ('01)

As the driver of strategic content partnerships for Google's transactional Movie & TV offering (i.e., rentals and purchase), Jonathan Zepp ('01) is at the heart of an endeavor that intends to dramatically expand the parameters of cyberspace and its entertainment-providing capacities. Following in the strategic vision of Robert Kyncl, the company's vice president of TV and entertainment and global head of content, Zepp and team are tasked with prodding film and television distributors in unique directions.

Zepp's journey to Silicon Valley began at BU Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Boston University Law Review. It was through this position that he fortified his relationship with Professor Tamar Frankel. Under Zepp's direction, the journal had published a series of papers that were presented at a symposium on the Internet, trust and the law that Frankel was then leading.

According to Zepp, Frankel fully anticiated how an array of legal issues - from basic contract law to trust and piracy - would evolve with the technology and Internet boom. "She put into perspective where the industry might be heading in terms of reach."

Emphasizing that professors like Frankel have contributed to the knowledge that he contineus to apply to his job, Zepp encourages students to build sustainable relationships with professors and other mentiors. "It's exceedingly rare that you'll have a chance to be around the depth and breadth of knowledge and experiences that BU Law offers on a daily basis," he says. "Do what you can to take addvantage [of those resources] while you're there, but also look to create meaningful relationships in order to leverage those resources throughout your career." 

To connect with BU Law alumni and others who shared his interests, Zepp pursued informational interviews and additional opportunities - all to "understand the landscape a little bit." And "I'm still in touch with a lot of folks that I met in the early days," he says.

Zepp sees law school as a steppingstone upon with students can cultivate lasting tools to enhance their careers. Although he is no longer a practicing lawyer, law school, he says, taught him invaluable life lessons, and the underlying skill set he developed has been critical in advancing his career at all stages.

After getting his J.D. from BU Law, Zepp spent a few years at big firms in both Los Angeles and New York before moving into the entertainment and technology industries. After a stint at Napster, he worked at Paramount Pictures and then Sony Network Entertainmenet. He appeared as one of "Hollywood's Fastest Rising Stars" in The Hollywood Reporter's "Next Gen Class of 2011" issue. And while he says his path up until now has not necessarily part of a preconceived scheme, he acknowledges it has not been entirely arbitrary either.

"My path wasn't planned out in terms of detailed steps," he says. "But the general progression has been fairly close to what I had hoped it would be."