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BitTorrent today announced a big business reshuffle. The company has named two new co-CEOs, Jeremy Johnson and Robert Delamar, hired David Chidekel as head of business development, and appointed Straith Schreder as VP of creative initiatives. What will all these executives be trying to do? The same thing the company has been attempting since day one: leverage the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol into a viable media business.
Specifically, BitTorrent is promising to deliver two products this year. The first, expected this summer, is a refresh of its Bundle platform, which will let content creators offer ad-supported livestreaming through mobile apps. The second is “a multichannel app” based on BitTorrent Live technology, and is coming this spring. BitTorrent says these leadership changes will “accelerate our momentum in media and creative distribution” and “further commercialize our technology platforms and scale our relationships with creators and sponsors.”
Current CEO Eric Klinker is stepping down but will remain at BitTorrent “in a technical role,” a BitTorrrent spokesperson told VentureBeat. “Eric has been an important part of BitTorrent and its history and stays with us. He has some initiatives in the works.”
So the obvious question is: Why two CEOs? “They are equal partners in their venture fund and have found success with that model and have found it works well here given their relative areas of expertise — Jeremy is an engineer and product guy, Bob is a lawyer and finance guy,” the spokesperson explained, adding that this arrangement “allows for resilience and redundancy in key decision making and execution.”
Here’s a quick overview of the new executives and what they will be doing:
- Jeremy Johnson, co-CEO, will be in charge of technology, go-to-market strategy, and executive management of product development, operations, and BitTorrent’s media teams. He has previously worked at Silver Spring, Sony Online Entertainment, NetVmg, and Excite@Home.
- Robert Delamar, co-CEO, will be focusing on building BitTorrent’s digital content distribution platform. He has cofounded and launched digital content service offerings such as urbmob (a music distribution platform for hip hop artists), Totalmovie (Latin America’s first video-on-demand service) and UUX (a VOD platform).
- David Chidekel, head of business development and business affairs, will be responsible for content acquisition and sponsorship deals. Previously, he was a partner for the media and entertainment law firm Ritholz Levy Sanders Chidekel & Fields, where he represented clients in the media and entertainment industries.
- Straith Schreder, vice president of creative initiatives, will head a division to grow BitTorrent’s media initiatives, including the opening of the company’s Los Angeles office. She joined BitTorrent in 2012 and led the development of Bundle.
BitTorrent first launched Bundle back in May 2013 with the hope of giving artists control over how they distribute their content and how they connect with their fans. More than 200 million fans and over 30,000 artists are currently on the platform (including big names like Lady Gaga, Linkin Park, and Madonna).
In the case of paygated Bundles, fans can unlock content through a direct payment to the artist, and artists still keep all the associated fan data just like with regular Bundles (number of impressions and downloads, as well as stream information and email addresses). Over the past year, the Bundle publisher network has grown by 50 percent, with 46 percent of current publishers now using Bundle as their primary distribution platform.
BitTorrent underwent a restructuring back in April 2015 that included significant layoffs, estimated as about 40 of the company’s approximately 150 domestic employees. “This is unrelated to last year; it’s about scaling as a global media brand,” a BitTorrent spokesperson told VentureBeat.
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