WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar has announced he is leaving the company.
In a memo shared with staff today and obtained by The edge, Kilar said his exit would fit with the impending merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. Kilar wrote that there were “many feelings one could have at a time like this, but for me there is nothing greater or more lasting than feelings of gratitude and hope. love I have for this team, this company and this mission.” The news was reported earlier by The Hollywood Reporter.
“I have never been so fulfilled professionally. I have never been so happy professionally. This team – and what we have built together – are the reasons why,” Kilar wrote. “We lead the industry creatively. We have elevated technology, products and design to the highest corporate standards. We operate as one team, proudly and successfully going directly to consumers around the world. It has been deeply gratifying to look into the future alongside each of you and to do so with conviction.
Kilar was expected to leave the company, but he would have served as CEO until early 2022, around the time the merger closes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal – which has already obtained regulatory approval – is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, but could be finalized as early as next week. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has long been in a position to lead the merged companies.
Kilar, a prominent executive in the streaming space, was the founding CEO of Hulu and was named CEO of WarnerMedia in the spring of 2020. It was under Kilar that WarnerMedia controversially moved its entire slate of 2021 movies to release hybrid on HBO Max during the pandemic — a move that followed a years-long tussle between theaters and studios over exclusivity windows.
“Leading this team has been the honor of my life,” Kilar said. “My heart is so full and I am beyond grateful to each of you. There’s no better team on the planet, and I’ll savor every last step as I walk around Burbank multiple times this week, with this team on my mind, always.
Read the full text of Kilar’s email to staff below:
As the current transaction with Discovery draws to a close, now is a good time to share with each of you that I will be leaving this incredible company.
There are many feelings one can feel at a time like this, but for me there is nothing greater or more lasting than the feelings of gratitude and love that I have. for this team, this company and this mission. I have never been so fulfilled professionally. I have never been so happy professionally. This team – and what we’ve built together – is why. We lead the industry creatively. We have elevated technology, products and design to the highest corporate standards. We operate as one team, proudly and successfully going directly to consumers around the world. It has been deeply gratifying to look into the future with you and to do so with conviction.
The joys are many, especially the discussions I’ve had with so many of the WarnerMedia team, diving deep into current affairs, whether on the Burbank multi-storey lot, along the High Line at Hudson Yards, in and around Techwood and the CNN Center, at our archives, on the vast grounds of Leavesden, at any of our game studios, or the many other places where this team is literally changing the world . Apparently it’s been rumored that when Jason calls for a walk and a chat, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!
For those of you who know me well (or who follow me on Twitter), it’s no surprise that I love our history and the footprint we have as a company around the world. I have done my best to visit and get to know as many of you as possible and to photographically document my love for this team and this company along the way via social media. So when my wife Jamie and I thought about what we could do on our own to adequately express our appreciation to each of you, we came up with the idea of creating a series of artifacts featuring some of the photos I have taken to celebrate this team and WarnerMedia. We invite each of you to visit this website and pick an image that resonates… from the iconic Warner Bros. water tower, the glittering towers of Hudson Yards, the virtual production stage in Leavesden and many more. An artifact containing this image (and a note from me on the back) will be shipped to you in the coming weeks. We hope this keepsake brings a smile and reminds you of the important contributions we have made to the 99-year legacy of this extraordinary company.
Leading this team has been the honor of my life. My heart is so full, and I am beyond grateful to each of you. There’s no better team on the planet, and I’ll savor every last step as I walk around the Burbank lot multiple times this week, with this team on my mind, always.