Hulu has announced that the company’s current CEO, Jason Kilar, along with CTO, Rich Tom, will be departing from the online video service the first quarter of 2013. Although the step down has been a buzz for a couple of months, this move questions the future of Hulu altogether.
Kilar emailed a heartfelt goodbye to his fellow employees earlier this week, later posting it on Hulu’s Blog. While describing his love for the company and its team, Kilar did not provide a reason as to why he or Tom were leaving, although he did make it apparent that he would be a figure in the company until his departure in late March. No successor was named. In addition, he left no clues as to what his next step would be in the professional world.
This leaves much to the imagination. While Kilar was considered for the CEO spot at Yahoo last year, he turned it down to stay with his Hulu vision. Most thought this indicated he planned on staying with the company for a while.
Kilar’s exit isn’t without remembering what he is leaving behind. Kilar, who spent five and a half years with the startup, helped transfer an idea nicknamed “ClownCo” to a personal vision and powerhouse.
Since he joined Hulu in 2007, Kilar has drawn more than 1,000 advertisers to Hulu and grown Hulu views to over 38 million. In addition to advertising and viewer growth, he contributed his subscription model idea. Hulu Plus, which launched in late 2012, is a $7.99 a month service that ended up drawing in more than 2 million subscribers in just 21 months.
Hulu managed $695 million in profits in 2012, a 65 percent increase from its ventures in 2011. Revenue wasn’t the only thing growing in 2012, the site also expanded its library 40 percent and the company generated more than $1 billion in revenue for content partners who offer video through the service.
Hulu’s parent companies, The Walt Disney Co. and News Corp. have been praising Kilar’s accomplishments midst the announcement of his departure.
“Jason has been an integral part of the Hulu story, transforming it from an interesting idea into an innovative business model that continues to evolve,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in a statement. “We are proud of his achievements, we appreciate what he’s built, and we share his confidence in his team’s ability to drive Hulu forward from here.”
According to CNBC, there has been speculation that News Corp. or Disney would buy out the other company’s stake. The two companies have very different ideas for what direction they would like the company to go, Disney’s more committed to the ad-supported Hulu.com, while News Corp is more interested in the paid Hulu plus app.
In addition the website’s speculates that veteran digital media executive Ross Levinsohn may be a likely candidate for Kilar’s replacement. Reporting that he’s been scouting out his next move after leaving his position as interim Yahoo CEO when Marissa Mayer took over.