Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Gets Its Second New Boss of the Year

hulu-alec-baldwin380Hulu is under new management, for the second time this year.

Andy Forssell, who has been running the video site since last spring as an interim CEO, is out. 21st Century Fox executive Mike Hopkins is headed in.

The fact that Forssell is leaving isn’t surprising. After Hulu sales boss JP Colaco left last month, Forssell was the sole high-profile executive left at the site with ties to original CEO Jason Kilar.

And if Hulu’s owners — Fox, Disney and Comcast — had wanted him to run the business on a permanent basis, they could have said so anytime in the last six months.

Instead, Fox and Disney executives — a deal with federal regulators means that Comcast doesn’t have a say in the site’s management — have been conducting a search for a new site head.

Hopkins has run distribution for Fox, so his appointment has some logic to it, if you think of Hulu as a digital hub for its owners’ content. But Disney and Fox could have gone in different directions, by picking an executive with an ad sales background, or one with strong product skills.

Both Bloomberg and Reuters reported Hopkins’s appointment late Thursday night.

As always with Hulu, the real issue for the video site isn’t its management, but what its owners want to do with it. Fox and Disney executives have gone back and forth over the site’s future for years.

In July, when they announced that they wouldn’t sell Hulu, but would instead invest $750 million to help the site compete with Netflix and Amazon, it seemed that they were aligned. But people familiar with both companies say they are at loggerheads again.

In a memo announcing his departure, distributed to Hulu employees Thursday, Forssell said Hulu was on track to generate close to $1 billion in revenue this year. In 2012, the company reported $700 million in revenue.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik