I’m a few days late to writing about this, but Jason Kilar has announced he will step down from his role as CEO of Hulu.
I don’t have a lot to say about the silicon valley politics of this but will say this: Hulu had every reason to fail and, in retrospect, it was largely the sheer will of Kilar and his team that kept it from doing so. And more than that, it succeeded in ways that no one really expected, a success that brought with it more problems for Kilar and Hulu than it likely anticipated. The people and behind the scenes, it seems, didn’t appear to have anticipated that a successful venture would impact existing business models they were trying to protect.
I was right there among the biggest skeptics of what was being referred to derisively as ‘ClownCo’ before it launched. I thought it would collapse under the weight of so many egos, entrenched corporate interest and other factors and would be dead inside of six months. Instead, after a number of delays and other inauspicious events that only added fuel to the naysayer’s fire, it launched and went on to become pretty darn cool.
So what’s next for Hulu? Good question. With Kilar departing and other factors coming into play it’s possible the media companies that own stakes in the platform will begin to fulfill the prophecy from 2007 and become overly territorial, tearing the site apart bit by bit as they take the learnings from this experiment and try to replicated them on their own sites.
If you read profiles of Kilar and have followed Hulu news over the last five or so you get the sense he kept the most destructive corporate intrusions at bay with a whip and chair, focusing more on what would actually be cool and interesting for viewers than anything else. That may or not be accurate but for the media world it will be interesting to see if his absence leads to some drastic changes that may be in the corporate interest but don’t serve the user experience well.