Peter Kafka

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Machinima, the YouTube Giant Looking for New Money, Is Also Looking for a New CEO

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Machinima, the giant YouTube network that caters to gamers, is looking for a new chief executive — at the same time it is trying to close a big funding round.

Allen DeBevoise, the company’s co-founder and current CEO, said the move to find a replacement is his idea, because the company needs more “professional management.” DeBevoise, who helped create Machinima in 2005 and has been running it since 2007, said he’ll stay on as chairman after hiring a new CEO.

“I’m looking for a partner that can run the business day to day and get it to the next level,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity to build a global entertainment network.”

The search comes at a pivotal time for Machinima. The company generates billions of views a month on YouTube, and is often described as one of the site’s biggest success stories. But Machinima has had two rounds of layoffs this year, and many video industry watchers think the company has had a hard time converting its audience into a sustainable business.

Meanwhile, Machinima has been looking for a big funding round for much of the year, and has contemplated a sale.

One last wrinkle: Earlier this week, TubeFilter reported that Philip DeBevoise, Allen DeBevoise’s brother and co-founder, would leave Machinima at the end of the year, as would Aaron DeBevoise, Allen DeBevoise’s nephew.

DeBevoise said his move is unrelated to the departure of his relatives, which he said has been planned for months, and is also not connected to the company’s fund-raising efforts. He said he started contemplating replacing himself after watching a presentation from Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner — LinkedIn’s co-founder and the man he brought in to replace him as CEO.

Machinima has been looking for a new CEO for at least a month, but DeBevoise said it will likely close a funding round before he hires a replacement.

At one point, Machinima was looking to raise a “mega-round” of funding, in the $70 million range. Now it is more likely to raise $25 million to $30 million, and DeBevoise said he hopes to close that round soon.

Last year, Machinima raised $35 million, in a round led by Google, which valued the company at around $200 million.

The CEO search, and its timing, will raise lots of eyebrows in the Web video world. But the move “is largely Allen’s decision,” said Redpoint Ventures’ Geoff Yang, a Machinima investor and board member. “If there was a big issue, Allen would be gone.”

“The fundamentals are all positive. We’re growing revenue at a really nice, rapid clip. We’re growing advertisers, we’re growing audience,” Yang said. “We’re looking for the right people to turn this big audience into a big business.”

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