Hulu CEO Randy Freer Out, as Disney Looks to Dominate Streaming

Less than a year after Disney took control of Hulu, its chief executive Randy Freer is stepping down in a move aimed at consolidating the streaming services operations with the entertainment giant's direct-to-consumer wing.


"I want to thank Randy for his leadership the last two years as CEO and for his collaboration the past several months to ensure an exceptionally bright future for Hulu," said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney's direct-to-consumer & international operations.

Under the move, Mayer said Disney will have Hulu's executive report to its direct-to-consumer and international team allowing the company "more effectively and efficiently deploy resources, rapidly grow our presence outside the U.S."

"With the successful launch of Disney+, we are now focused on the benefits of scale within and across our portfolio of DTC businesses," he said in a statement.

Disney took over control of the Santa Monica-based streaming giant last May after it struck a deal with Comcast to sell its stake by 2024.

Months later, Disney + launched and the entertainment behemoth quickly offered consumers bundled packages with its other brands including the streaming service and ESPN. It's in heated competition with other streaming giants to capture market share and content from across the globe.

Competitor Netflix is producing 130 seasons of local language television this year alone.

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With an ambitious goal to building the Youtube of audio, Los Angeles-based Vurbl announced Monday it has closed its $1.3 pre-seed round with lead investor AlphaEdison with participation from Halogen Ventures and Ten13. The funds will be used to launch a platform later this year with millions of pieces of audio and podcasts.

"We know how user generated content works, we know how social and SEO work, we know how digital advertising work, and most importantly, we keenly understand the particular way you must stitch them all together to make a great UX for listeners, creators AND advertisers," founder and CEO Audra Gold wrote in an email to dot.LA.

As opposed to audio streaming companies such as Spotify and Luminary which have spent millions acquiring shows, Vurbl plans to differentiate itself by providing mostly cheaper user-generated content. It says it will also be the first scaled open market, realtime programmatic audio ad platform, doing for audio what has been so lucrative for video on Youtube.

"Because of this, Vurbl is poised to revolutionize the world of digital audio advertising," Gold said.

Gold previously founded Product N, a product management consulting and recruitment firm, and led product teams at Rubicon Project, The Mighty, Pluto TV, Fourthwall Studios and Defy Media (formerly Break Media). She also held senior product roles at WeddingChannel/TheKnot, Viviendi Universal's online division, and IGN.com.

Apple owns the dominant podcasting platform even though audio is low on its list of priorities. Spotify has been on a spending spree to acquire more big name podcasts like Joe Rogan. Luminary raised more than $160 million to fund a subscription model with a hefty marketing budget but has burned through cash and struggled to attract subscribers.


President Donald Trump told reporters he approved a deal in concept between Oracle and TikTok's parent company ByteDance in which Oracle and Walmart would partner with the app in the U.S. The move could avert the ban in U.S. app stores that was set to go into effect on Sunday.

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