Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar and CTO Richard Tom are working on a new stealth startup, according to sources. While details of their plans are still a little fuzzy, the two have secured office space in Los Angeles and are actively hiring engineers for their new startup.
Kilar, of course, spent the last several years building and running Hulu, the “premiere spot for watching all your favorite broadcast TV shows on the web.” Joining early in the company’s lifespan, Kilar took the streaming rights from Fox, NBC and eventually ABC, and built the wildly popular TV catchup service. Prior to that, Kilar was an executive at Amazon, where he helped build the e-commerce giant’s online media business.
Richard Tom was also a long-running exec at Hulu, joining the company in 2007, as well. After former CTO Eric Feng left in 2011, Tom took over that role and helped expand the company’s Hulu Plus service, which allows viewers to watch shows on a wide range of mobile phones, tablets and connected-TV devices.
Both execs cashed out after Hulu parents News Corp, Disney, and NBC Universal bought out the 10-percent stake in Hulu that had been owned by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners last fall. That triggered a liquidity event that earned Kilar a reported $40 million for his years of service. Not surprisingly, both left Hulu at the beginning of the year, leaving interim chief Andy Forsell in charge while Hulu’s parents seek new owners.
Now the two are teaming up again, with plans to launch a startup of their own, without having to worry about all the rights issues and corporate politics that they were subject to as part of Hulu. While there, Kilar took a couple of stands against corporate parents, including a blog post in which he gave his views on the future of TV.
He and Tom will maybe get a chance to build an app or video service of their own. While we’ve heard that the two are still in whiteboarding mode, rumor has it that they are interested in working on a service that will be focused on the living room. That could mean building a company that complements today’s traditional TV or streaming media services, although people we’ve talked to say it’s unlikely that whatever they’re creating will involve licensing content directly.
While they’re currently based in L.A. and are hiring there, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay in Southern California exclusively. We’ve heard whisperings that Kilar could also consider opening an office in San Francisco or Silicon Valley.