* Chief Technology Officer also exiting
* Hulu generated $700 mln in revenue last year
* Web TV service has 3 million subscribers
* Company does not name replacement
By Jennifer Saba and Liana B. Baker
Jan 4 Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar will
leave the streaming TV company this quarter, he wrote in a blog
post on the company's website on Friday, raising more questions
about its future path under multiple owners.
Kilar has long been rumored to be exiting the company 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 gave no reason for his departure or indicate his
future plans. Hulu did not name a replacement for the
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. "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 involving 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 the lucrative business of getting cable
companies to pay for programming. Furthermore, it is now
building out its own stable of original content exclusive to
Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement that Kilar had been
"an integral part of the Hulu story, transforming it from an
interesting idea into an innovative business model that
continues to evolve... We appreciate what he's built, and we
share his confidence in his team's ability to drive Hulu forward
A statement from News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch said Kilar had
helped build Hulu into one of the leading online video services
and called the company "incredibly well positioned for the road
BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield expects News Corp's Fox to
buy out its partners in the venture this year.
"With full ownership of Hulu, FOX accelerates Hulu's push
into original programming and explores adding cable network
content to create a virtual MVPD (multichannel video programmer
distributor) service," Greenfield said in a Jan. 3 research
Comcast, the third partner in the venture declined to
comment on Kilar's departure. Unlike Disney and News Corp,
Comcast does not have any management control of Hulu, which was
a regulatory condition related to its acquisition of NBC
Universal in 2011.
Hulu put itself on the block in 2011 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 last year that 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 last
year but Kilar removed himself from consideration.