Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Providence Gets Out of Hulu. What About Jason Kilar?

Asa Mathat /

Five years after investing in Hulu, Providence Equity is getting its return and going home. The private equity group is striking a deal with the rest of Hulu’s owners — Comcast, Disney and News Corp. — that will let it cash out its 10 percent stake.

People familiar with the negotiations tell me that Providence and its fellow investors are pegging Hulu’s value at $2 billion, as Bloomberg reported earlier today. I don’t know if that means Providence will take $200 million, or if it structured a deal that gave it some sort of preferred return over and above its equity stake. (News Corp. also owns this Web site.)

In any case, the real question to answer now is what this means for Jason Kilar and his management team. Kilar and his employees also have a chunk of equity in the company, but haven’t been able to get their hands on it because there hasn’t been a “liquidity event.”

So now that there has been one, will Kilar take his payout and leave? There have been a lot of folks, myself included, who assumed he was leaving for a long time — especially during 2011, when he angered his media company owners with a “Jerry Maguire” memo questioning the basic business practices of the TV business, and when Hulu briefly went on the sale block.

But come 2012, Kilar was still there. And starting with his appearance at our D: Dive Into Media conference in January, he’s been loudly extolling Hulu’s virtues and its track record, in a variety of public appearances.

When I talked to Kilar a few months ago, I tried to get him to tell me if he was sticking around. Here’s what he said then: “I’m not the kind of guy that dabbles in a lot of things; I tend to go deep. And I’m a big believer in the long term. … It’s highly amusing to read all the stuff that gets written, but all I’d ask … is judge me on my history.”

Which doesn’t really answer the question at all. I’ve asked him and his reps for a more concrete answer today. Not surprisingly, they’re staying quiet.

Here’s that interview again. The part where I confess to being wrong about his exit date is right at the beginning. The part where he won’t talk about his exit date is at the end.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work