Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has resigned from Hulu. In a blog post announcing his departure, he explains that it wasn't an easy decision. Indeed, Kilar has been at the helm of the online video-on-demand service since its early days as a venture in 2007. CTO Rich Tom will also be leaving the company.
In the post, Kilar says that he and Tom will stick around to ensure a smooth transition. If that's even possible with the departure of two formative executives we'll have to wait and find out. Indeed, it seems this change has been a long time coming, but the motivations aren't totally clear.
Today, Hulu is a hugely important part of the streaming video ecosystem. The joint venture between NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney-ABC was a miracle of cooperation amongst the media conglomerates. In recent years, the future of the company has become increasingly hard to pinpoint. Sure, Hulu is still growing at a good clip and boasts 1.5 million paying subscribers to Hulu Plus and $420 million in annual revenue. But that could all change in a moment if suddenly content owners—who also happen to be the service's stakeholders—decide they don't want to play nice anymore.
And it seems that, in part at least, that's what happened. Over the summer, rumors circulated that Kilar would be leaving the company , and that the structure of the content deals would change. In short, the very companies that first invested in Hulu wanted to hold back more of their content so they could differentiate their own offerings. Kilar stayed on a while longer at Hulu, but the venture has moved in new directions, including opening up some new service areas for Hulu Kids and Hulu Video Games.
In the beginning, Hulu was an incredible innovation in service and technology that was a little too good to be true. It couldn't last. The service needs to start planning a new direction. It's not clear what that is, but it's clear that Kilar won't be the man steering the goodship Hulu there. [Hulu]