WarnerMedia's new CEO Jason Kilar announced a major restructuring of the AT&T-owned media company last week.
He consolidated operations across the sprawling media empire, while dismissing three key executives and beginning layoffs of hundreds of more staffers.
He also elevated a handful of key leaders who were chosen to run newly expanded divisions within the company.
Business Insider looked at the executives whose power grew as part of WarnerMedia's latest leadership shuffle.
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WarnerMedia's Jason Kilar, in his first major move as CEO, is collapsing the legacy-media company's byzantine organizational structure.
On Friday, Kilar announced in a memo to staffers sweeping changes that consolidated WarnerMedia's content operations across TV, film, and streaming under Warner Bros., formed a new group to run all international operations, combined the company's US ad-sales and distribution groups, and brought marketing and communications under new control.
Kilar dismissed three top execs as part of the leadership shuffle, including two people in charge of programming HBO Max. At least 800 staffers across Warner Bros. and HBO are also being laid off, Variety reported.
The statures of other leaders are rising within the company. Kilar named the executives chosen to run these newly expanded groups. They include people like Ann Sarnoff, who runs Warner Bros.; HBO's programming president, Casey Bloys; and Andy Forssell, who was a key player in getting HBO Max off the ground.
Kilar also revealed which of his direct reports were largely safe for now:
Jeff Zucker remains chairman of WarnerMedia News and Sports
Pascal Desroches is still CFO
Richard Tom, Kilar's first C-suite hire, is staying on as chief technology officer
Jim Cummings continues as as chief human resources officer
Priya Dogra carries on her duties as executive vice president of strategy and corporate development
Jim Meza is still exec vice president, general counsel
Here are the seven executives whose power grew as part of WarnerMedia's restructuring: Jason Kilar
Kilar already had the power, but the restructuring was his first major display of it after taking the CEO job in May.
His move to simplify the legacy studio's sprawling media empire undid some key appointments by his predecessor and current boss, John Stankey, who runs AT&T. For instance, Kilar dismissed former WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt, who was Stankey's first splashy hire when he took control of WarnerMedia after it was bought by AT&T.
Kilar reigns over the Warner Bros. TV and film businesses; cable networks like CNN and HBO; entertainment brands like DC Entertainment and Turner Sports; and ad-tech arm, Xandr.
He's been pushing the organization to put consumers before short-term business interests, discouraging practices like squeezing too many ads into the forthcoming ad-supporting version of HBO Max, as Jessica Toonkel at The Information reported.
He also brings with him a wealth of digital experience to complement other WarnerMedia leaders like Ann Sarnoff and Jeff Zucker, who come from traditional TV and film backgrounds.
Kilar spent about nine years at Amazon in various roles including senior vice president of worldwide application software. He was Hulu's founding CEO, helping its legacy-media owners stake a claim in and create business models for streaming video. And he cofounded and led the short-form video startup Vessel, which was acquired by Verizon in a 2016 attempt to revive its now-defunct mobile-video unit, Go90.
Warner Bros. chair and chief Ann Sarnoff is taking on responsibility for all the company's TV and film programming as part of her expanded role leading its new Studios and Networks group.
On top of running WarnerMedia's studios, Sarnoff now oversees content for HBO, HBO Max, and TV channels TBS, TNT, and TruTV.
While well-known in entertainment circles, Sarnoff is a rare Hollywood outsider to lead the iconic Warner Bros. studio. She was hired from BBC Studios in 2019.
She brings to the gig more operational and TV prowess, having spent nine years at BBC, most recently as president of BBC Studios America where she helped grow viewership for franchises like "Doctor Who" and "BBC Earth." She also served for stints at Dow Jones and the WNBA, as well as for about a decade in various roles at Viacom.
Sarnoff is out to prove that the traditional TV and film studio can evolve for the digital age.
In her first year in the job, she formed a new film label to produce mid-budget movies for HBO Max.
She also made key appointments, including naming Tom Ascheim from Disney's Freeform to an expansive role leading global kids, young adults, and classics.
Casey Bloys is the creative force behind HBO, and now he's programming for HBO Max and TV channels TNT, TBS, and TruTV, too. He was put in charge of original content on those platforms as former content chief Kevin Reilly exited. Bloys reports to Sarnoff in his new role.
Kilar praised Bloys in a recent interview with Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw for helping shepherd in the quality programming that Kilar believes sets HBO Max apart from other streamers. Bloys has helped HBO lead in premium TV even as Apple, Amazon, and Netflix race to beat the network at its own game.
Bloys was responsible for critically acclaimed HBO series that recently received Emmy's nods like "The Watchman" and "Euphoria," as well as documentaries like "McMillions."
He joined HBO in 2004 and came up at the cable network as a programming exec under former chief executive Richard Plepler. Plepler led HBO during an era that included cultural hits like "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire."
Bloys was promoted to programming chief in 2016, after helping bring in a string of comedy hits like "Silicon Valley," "Veep," and "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
After Plepler departed in 2019, Bloys led the network alongside Glenn Whitehead, who handles business and legal affairs. Bloys has continued to pursue boundary-pushing series like the racy teen drama "Euphoria," and "Run," a dark comedy from "Fleabag" creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And he's on the hunt for the network's next smash hit. He currently has a "Game of Thrones" prequel, called "House of the Dragon," in the works for 2022.
Bloys also oversees original programming for Cinemax, which has struggled in the last year as pay-TV distributors stopped bundling it with HBO. The network wasn't mentioned in Kilar's latest announcement.
Andy Forssell, Kilar's fellow Hulu alum, is being elevated to the top job overseeing the business side of HBO Max.
Forssell runs product, marketing, consumer engagement for WarnerMedia's flagship streaming service in his new role as general manager of HBO Max. He's also architecting the platform's global expansion, which Kilar says will kick off in Latin America.
Forssell has managed much of the day-to-day development for the HBO Max product since its inception.
He was the chief operating officer at Otter Media before taking on the HBO Max duties. At Otter, insiders told Business Insider Forssell was a key liaison between upper management and the individual brands like Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and DC Universe.
Forssell joined Otter Media from its subsidiary Fullscreen, where he had been its chief operating officer. He was also a top player at Hulu for six years, where he held a number of roles, including acting CEO in 2013.
Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler is now running WarnerMedia's newly combined international arm that spans Warner Bros, HBO, and Turner's TV channels.
He's responsible for the local operations of WarnerMedia's TV networks, as well as commercial activities like ad sales and distribution, and regional programming for HBO Max.
As CRO, Zeiler has been a key player in monetizing WarnerMedia's businesses in various ways including subscriptions for HBO Max. He was also part of the effort to bring an ad-supported tier to HBO Max, which CNBC reported is expected to launch in 2021.
Zeiler led the team responsible for negotiating carriage deals with TV providers like fellow AT&T subsidiary DirecTV and cable company Comcast, as well.
Recently, that group has been hustling to make HBO Max available through as many platforms and distributors as possible. But it's yet to land a deal with the two biggest streaming platforms: Roku and Amazon Fire TV. When asked why HBO Max isn't on Amazon devices by Bloomberg, Kilar said to "call the Seattle folks."
Zeiler, who has been with WarnerMedia since the Time Warner days, was also in charge of integrating WarnerMedia's ad-sales group with Xandr's ad-tech business since the two divisions merged in April. No mention was made of Xandr in Kilar's memo announcing the restructuring.
Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves is in charge of WarnerMedia's new commercial arm that unites its US ad-sales and distribution groups with its home-entertainment and content-licensing efforts.
Goncalves will be leading closely watched relationships with major advertisers, distributors, and other streamers in the new gig. Content licensing, for example, is a hot topic for HBO Max as DC and Harry Potter films rotate on and off the platform. The service has also been on a mission to bring marquee titles from the Warner Bros. catalog to the service, like "Friends."
Goncalves, who joined AT&T through its 2015 acquisition of DirecTV, was a key player in launching HBO Max. Greenblatt, WarnerMedia's old direct-to-consumer boss, turned to him for his streaming expertise last May, as Otter Media was also being brought closer under the WarnerMedia umbrella.
At DirecTV, Goncalves oversaw the satellite-TV operator's digital efforts, including its TV Everywhere and over-the-top platforms, among other roles.
He rose in the ranks under the phone company. He was CEO of AT&T's digital brands, where he oversaw the relationship between AT&T and The Chernin Group, which operated Otter Media as a joint venture until AT&T bought full control in 2018.
And he led the launch strategy for DirecTV Now (now AT&T TV Now), which was the company's last major digital-TV initiative. The linear streaming service got off to a solid start in 2016, but lost subscribers as programming costs ballooned, discounts were nixed in an effort to become profitable, and AT&T shifted its focus in 2020 to a pricier internet-based offering that is more akin to traditional pay-TV services.
Christy Haubegger, a former Creative Artists Agency agent and founding member of the Time's Up initiative, is taking control of WarnerMedia's marketing and communications groups.
Haubegger joined WarnerMedia in 2019 as chief enterprise inclusion officer.
Kilar's restructure puts WarnerMedia's global marketing and communications teams, including those responsible for branding and corporate-social responsibility, under Haubegger's command.
The shift comes as Hollywood and the broader media industry is reckoning with its record on race and gender. In recent weeks, HBO and other entertainment platforms have been trying to amplify Black creators and voices who they work with in light of the latest racial-justice movement.
Haubegger, who founded Latina magazine in the 1990s, has an established track record for elevating women of color and diverse voices in the entertainment industry. She brought clients like Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and Salma Hayek to CAA during her time there and pushed the agency to work with more clients of color, according to Stanford Lawyer, a publication by Haubegger's alma mater, Stanford Law School.