Hulu’s founding CTO Eric Feng is leaving the streaming video company he helped turn into one of the web’s most popular video portals. Feng will be joining Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a Partner focusing on greentech, and will also start serving as former Vice President Al Gore’s tech advisor. He will remain at Hulu until July 16, when he will be replaced by Rich Tom, who will take over Hulu’s technology platform, and Eugene Wei, who will take over the “audience business” including the Hulu.com website. Christina Lee, Hulu’s director of corporate communications (and Feng’s wife), will be leaving as well.
Feng and Hulu CEO Jason Kilar just announced the news on the Hulu blog.
The news comes at a time when the future of Hulu is uncertain. Reports increasingly point to the service turning to a premium subscription model, with an increased focus on providing content to devices like the iPad and Xbox. The messaging around the departure is that this was simply a great opportunity for Feng and didn’t have anything to do with Hulu’s current status, but it’s hard to take that entirely at face value.
Here’s an excerpt from the Hulu blog post:
It’s with a jumble of feelings that I’m announcing I will be leaving Hulu this summer and joining the incredibly talented Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers team as a partner and technical advisor to former Vice President Al Gore. I’ve been able to share this news with many of you personally, but for others it may come as a surprise. For me, it’s still a surprise, and I’ve known about this longer than anyone.
Leaving Hulu was a difficult decision. My time here has been the most exciting, challenging and rewarding professional experience of my life. I could not be more proud of all that we’ve accomplished from our inauspicious beginning in the summer of 2007, to becoming the PC World product of the year, a Fast Company most innovative company, a Time Magazine invention of the year, and, most importantly, a brand that millions of people are so passionate about. From two team members to two hundred, from Beijing to Los Angeles, from an idea to a real sustainable business, working at Hulu has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime privilege. However I’ve recently been blessed with a rare and unexpected thing in life: a *twice* in a lifetime privilege.
Through coincidence and good fortune that continues to humble me, I’ve been offered the chance to contribute to the amazing innovation Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is helping pioneer, from new Internet and mobility ventures to life science breakthroughs to solutions for the Global Warming climate crisis. I’m eager to continue exploring my passion for digital technologies, and I’ve long aspired to become involved in the transformative solutions around greentech. I just never knew how or when that might happen until now. And I never thought now would come this soon.
Here’s an email Feng just sent to some friends who don’t work at Hulu:
The following email may come as a surprise to many of you — it’s been a surprise to me that I’m even writing it.
But after spending the past 3 years developing Hulu, testing Hulu, launching Hulu, growing Hulu, living Hulu, and breathing Hulu, I’m doing something I never thought I’d be doing — leaving Hulu.
Today we are announcing that I will be moving to San Francisco and joining the talented Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, and Byers team as a partner and technical advisor to Vice President Al Gore. Hulu has published a blog posting that has more info about this transition: http://blog.hulu.com/2010/06/11/a-thank-you-for-3-years-of-innovation/ .
While I’m thrilled to be a part of the KPCB team and look forward to new adventures in the Bay, I’ll certainly miss the Hulu family, which has been a true privilege to be a part of. And a large part of that privilege has been the opportunity to meet, correspond, collaborate, and work with you during my time here. Thank you all for your great support over the years.
My last day at Hulu will be 7/16, and after that you can reach me anytime at ——-. Although my email will change, my appreciation and respect for you will not and I hope we’ll be able to work together again in the future.
Best wishes and my sincere thanks,