Long-revered digital executive George Strompolos, a seminal figure in the rise of YouTube’s multi-channel network industry, has stepped down as CEO of Fullscreen, which he founded in Jan. 2011.
In a memo to staffers, Strompolos said that he would be transitioning to an advisor role at both Fullscreen and Otter Media, explaining that he made the decision “after spending some time away from work and reflecting on my own personal journey.” In his stead, Fullscreen will be led by Andy Forssell, the COO of Otter Media — which now fully owns Fullscreen, (and which is in turn owned by AT&T).
Otter Media, which was formerly a majority owner of Fullscreen, purchased its remaining shares from Strompolos in January to become its sole proprietor. Then, in August, AT&T fully acquired Otter Media — which had previously been a joint venture between the telecom giant and The Chernin Group. AT&T purchased Chernin’s stake in Otter for a reported $1 billion.
“Building Fullscreen has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” Strompolos wrote. “We knew early on that online video, the smartphone, and social media would change the world. Together, we built a first-of-its-kind company that empowers a diverse spectrum of creative voices and redefines how brands approach their marketing in the modern era.” Strompolos added that he would speak more about the leadership transition at an all-hands meeting today with Forssell and Otter’s recently-installed CEO Tony Goncalves.
Despite rising to become one of today’s foremost YouTube networks, Fullscreen has weathered tough times in recent months, including wide-ranging cuts to its creator network in the wake of the Adpocalypse, and the shuttering of one of its biggest bets as a company, an SVOD service comprising licensed programming and original works fronted by digital stars.
Strompolos founded Fullscreen after being an early YouTube employee that helped to orchestrate the platform’s Partner Program. AT&T and Chernin’s Otter venture purchased a majority stake in the multi-channel network, which reps a portfolio of 4,500 YouTube channels and also provides 360-degree talent management to select creators, for roughly $200 million in 2014.
Check out Strompolos’ staff memo in full below:
After spending some time away from work and reflecting on my own personal journey, I have decided that now is the right time for me to step down as CEO. Tomorrow I will be transitioning into an Advisor role to Fullscreen and Otter Media. Fullscreen will continue to report into Otter’s COO, Andy Forssell.
Building Fullscreen has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. We knew early on that online video, the smartphone and social media would change the world. Together we built a first-of-its-kind company that empowers a diverse spectrum of creative voices and redefines how brands approach their marketing in the modern era. I will never forget the friendships, the late night sessions, the challenges, the wins, the work, the laughs we’ve had and the culture we built. Thank you.
My hope is that I have instilled a real spirit of creativity, relentlessness and innovation here that will continue forward in each of you for years to come. We have a deep bench of leaders who reflect these values and will ensure that the future of Fullscreen remains bright. I look forward to supporting this team as an Advisor going forward.
Please join me at All-Hands today where I will speak more about this transition and we will hear from Tony Goncalves and Andy Forssell.