Hulu CEO Jason Kilar to leave company

Fri Jan 4, 2013 5:24pm EST

Jan 4 (Reuters) - Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar will leave the company during this quarter, he wrote in a blog post on the company's website.

Kilar has long been rumored to be exiting the streaming TV service as it faces stiff competition from Netflix Inc, Amazon.com Inc as well as Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Hulu chief technology officer Rich Tom is also leaving, according to the post.

Kilar, Hulu CEO since July 2007, last year steered the company to $700 million in revenue and grew subscribers to 3 million. More than 200,000 new subscribers have signed up with the service in the last seven days, he noted.

"My decision to depart has been one of the toughest I've ever made," Kilar wrote on Friday. "The things that have clearly brought the most joy to my heart (and what I believe to be the most important inputs in our business) have been this team and the values and principles we hold dear."

Still, the popular service, which started primarily as a free site for people to catch up on television shows they might have missed, has had a rocky path over the last five years.

Part of the problem stems from its complicated ownership structure - media conglomerates Walt Disney Co, News Corp and Comcast NBC Universal - and how much content each should make available to Hulu.

The owners face a dilemma: The success of Hulu could potentially eat away at its lucrative business of getting cable companies to pay for programming. It is now building out its own stable of original content exclusive to Hulu.

Indeed, in 2011 Hulu put itself on the block with suitors including Google, Amazon, DirecTV Group and Dish Network Corp, Reuters reported at the time. Talks collapsed over the price of the deal.

Private equity firm Providence Equity Partners said in October it had sold its 10 percent stake in Hulu to the remaining owners.

Kilar's name surfaced as a potential candidate for the top job at Yahoo Inc after Scott Thompson resigned. Kilar removed himself from consideration, he said in a statement from Hulu.

Hulu did not announce who would take Kilar's place.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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