A native Los Angelino, Steve was an accomplished guitarist and award-winning photographer by the time he left high school (even winning a state-wide competition). With equal parts creative and scholastic skills, he graduated with honors from UCLA with a business degree. Soon after graduation, Steve co-founded a commercial and corporate image production company, Terra Nova Productions, Inc. Steve and his partner quickly gained notoriety through their work with McDonalds, Chrysler/Plymouth, Cox Broadcasting and produced an Emmy Honors winning documentary “Love Marriage and Divorce” for ABC.
For the next ten years, Steve ran Tobenkin Productions, Inc. (formerly Terra Nova) creating compelling commercials and corporate projects for Visa, Yamaha, Tomy Toys, BSR and dozens of other local and national brands. Steve was elected to several industry positions including VP and Board member of the Association of Commercial Producers/West and Member of the Peer Group Executive Committee of the Television Academy. During this period, Steve also found time to earn his MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.
Steve’s work with Tobenkin Productions caught the attention of a globally recognized advertising agency, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). Steve joined the DMB&B team in 1994 as the Senior Vice President of Broadcast Production. In this role, Steve led multiple teams to crafted broadcast advertising campaigns for General Motors, Baskin Robbins, Lockheed Martin, and Blue Cross. Steve’s work won dozens of awards from AICP to Clio to IBA, Effies and others. He was also a member of the Executive Committee of DMB&B’s LA office, helping to direct strategic vision and maintain profitability for the operation, and the individual client accounts.
During the dot com boom of the late 90s, Steve saw an opportunity to bring his leadership and creative skills to a burgeoning new web development firm, Cybernation (CNation). Steve became CNation’s Chief Executive Officer and led the organization through a period of massive expansion. The firm served a diverse set of clientele, from video game publishers, to digital retailers and major news networks. Steve’s leadership was instrumental to CNation’s construction of sophisticated websites like CBS Marketwatch, stamps.com, foxinteractive.com, Capcom.com, and Konami.com. CNation also designed the first online employee benefit portal for the University of California system.
Despite the excitement of internet 1.0, Steve longed to return to his first passion: production. In 2001, Steve launched his current production and consulting firm, LeTo Entertainment. Steve departed from CNation and began working as the Managing Director for Media and Entertainment at the global consulting firm Scient. The following year was busy for Steve, as he continued to develop and produce projects with LeTo Entertainment in addition to his work at the ecommerce giant. After leaving Scient, Steve successfully developed and optioned a one-hour television drama to CBS and a half hour television comedy to Fox.
The following year, Steve was recruited to manage the business and sales operations at Birns & Sawyer, Inc. The 50 year-old motion picture rental and sales company was in desperate need of a reposition and upgrade. Initially envisioned as a brief consulting assignment, Steve’s time at Birns turned into a four-year reinvention of how the company went to market and serviced their rapidly changing clientele. Steve expanded Birn’s client base to include major clients and productions such as American Idol, Live Nation, and Tony Scott.
With Birns and Sawyer on firmer ground than it was four years ago, Steve left the company in 2008 to dedicate his full time efforts to LeTo Entertainment. Since then, he has produced hundreds of projects (documentaries, commercials, branded content, Interactive Television) worked with top above-the-line talent, as well as served as a marketing and business consultant to start-ups and major brands including Canon, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Honeywell.
Steve has raised five children and lives with his wife Anat (a well-known Entertainment and IP attorney) in Las Vegas. He splits his time between LeTo’s Las Vegas and Beverly Hills operations.