Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

HBO’s Berkes Restructures Digital Team (Memo)


About two weeks ago, I heard about a restructuring under HBO SVP of consumer technology Otto Berkes, who also takes over the job of CTO in March from longtime vet Bob Zitter. The former Microsoft exec and Xbox co-founder was named the top tech figure at the premium cable network at the end of last year, after being the primary developer of its popular HBO Go and MAX Go streaming video offerings.

As part of the changes, the memo of the Time Warner unit said, product strategy and development exec Hans Deutmeyer is leaving HBO.

HBO has been very active in the digital space, increasingly offering its shows on a variety of mobile devices. Earlier this week, at our D: Dive Into Media conference, HBO said its subscribers will be able to stream programming from an Apple iPhone or iPad onto their television via AirPlay.

All the various details are below, in a memo HBO sent to its employees at the end of January:

HBO GO has established HBO as a company that understands the value of technology as a tool for delivering great content and experiences to consumers, and HBO.com has become a primary means of driving broad consumer engagement and awareness of our offerings. We are proud of these achievements and also recognize that we have more ahead of us to accomplish. Over the course of the next several years, our mission is to build best-in-class technology execution capabilities. That mission is central to ensuring that HBO has the tools available to support our business through the ongoing technology-based disruption of media and to support new areas of growth. Like other leading Internet-based video service providers, we will design, build, and deploy scalable products with global reach.

Achieving these goals will require focus and a disciplined approach. Roles and responsibilities must be clear and well-defined to ensure efficient distribution of work and smooth collaboration between groups and people. In order to provide the organizational framework needed to achieve our goals, I am restructuring Digital Products around four functional groups (listed alphabetically):

1. Infrastructure Operations & QA,
2. Program Management,
3. Software Engineering,
4. User Experience & Product Design.

Each of these groups will have responsibilities for both HBO GO and HBO.com as appropriate for the functional areas of each group. This will enable more efficient end-to-end integration and coordination of our design, platform architecture, and infrastructure development.

The attached “Digital Products Organizational Pillars” slide illustrates the roles and responsibilities of each of these four functional groups in greater detail. The leaders of these groups will report directly to me and will continue to do so after my transition to the CTO role.

Donna Stalworth will continue to head up the infrastructure operations and QA efforts in Digital Products. She will also add build and release management to her responsibilities.

Rebekah Calabrese will be stepping into the role of VP of Program Management for Digital Products. She and her team will be responsible for cross-group coordination, project management, budget management, technology vendor relationships, and overall status communication for Digital Products. Rebekah will also continue to provide contract support for Digital Products as well as the other technology groups. Her team will consist of the existing Digital Products program and project management staff and her current reports.

Drew Angeloff will lead all of Digital Products’ software engineering activities in New York as well as in Seattle. Centralizing consumer software engineering in one group under one leader will maximize coordination and the flow of information, and will help ensure a consistent and robust software architecture. This is especially important given geographic distance between the New York and Seattle teams. The engineering staff working on device application development and the GO service currently on Rob Caruso’s team will now report to Drew.

Rob Caruso and the workflow team led by Jason Kui will transition to Diane Tryneski’s organization; Rob will report to Diane. Rob’s new charter is to build software engineering capabilities to optimize digital asset creation, management, and security, and to create technologies that unlock the full potential of software in the digital content area. Rob and his team will collaborate closely with Digital Products to ensure that our digital content technologies and our consumer-facing products inform each other to enable unique and innovative content-driven user experiences. This new role and group will be critical to achieving end-to-end software technology excellence.

Dina Juliano will lead the User Experience & Product Design organization. Her team’s responsibilities will include HBO GO, HBO.com, and HBO On Demand. Dina’s team will conceive, design, and realize new digital experiences in partnership with key stakeholders across HBO. She and her team will incorporate consumer and market insights to create a coherent product vision and roadmap that engages our users. Dina’s team will consist of her existing team and the groups formerly in Hans Deutmeyer’s organization.

Hans has decided to leave HBO to pursue opportunities that better align with his future interests. Hans has been a part of the HBO GO story since its genesis and has played a key role in bringing it to the market successfully. Given the new organizational direction, he has decided that this is the right time for him to pursue other opportunities. I want to thank Hans for his contributions and wish him success in his new endeavors.

Please welcome Donna, Rebekah, Drew, Rob, and Dina in their new roles. The changes in their teams and roles are effective immediately.

I am very excited about the new organization and am confident that we have the right the structure, leadership, passion, talent, and creativity needed to deliver best-in-class digital products to our users.

Please let your manager or me know if you have any questions.

Thank you-

— Otto —

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