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商业 - 科技

Hulu踏上没落之路?

Janet Morrissey 2013年01月11日

视频行业的竞争越来越激烈,然而视频流媒体服务公司Hulu魅力非凡的首席执行官杰森•吉拉尔在这个当口上却通过个人博客宣布即将离职,一度前景光明的公司陷入巨大的不确定性。分析人士指出,他辞职的原因可能是因为在公司发展战略上与Hulu幕后的媒体大佬们发生了分歧。

    
出了让菲尔•邓飞抱怨的事了?

    Hulu公司的杰出领袖杰森•吉拉尔证实了长期以来坊间的猜测,他将从这家视频巨头辞职,不再担任首席执行官一职。消息震动了各界。他抛出这个重磅惊人消息的方式也是典型的“吉拉尔式”的——在自己的博客上广而告之。这篇博文并没有什么傲慢无礼、让人难堪的说法——以前他曾数次用这种做法让Hulu的媒体母公司恼火。相反,这篇文章颇为伤感,几乎可以说是多愁善感。吉拉尔追忆了他在Hulu的奋斗史。他把这家公司从2007年一个空无一物的办公套间做成一个吸引了超过300万付费用户,2012年收入达到7亿美元的庞然大物。

    他写道:“这次离职是我有史以来最艰难的决定之一,”但他并未给出辞职的理由。没有相互指责。也没有对行业或Hulu母公司长篇大论的抨击。一切都无迹可寻。实际上,这篇博文留下了更多问题,却没有提供多少答案。尤其是事关Hulu的长期发展前景,以及它在这个竞争日益激烈的行业里如何生存下去的问题(参加《财富》杂志专文“Hulu的网络大戏”)。

    另外,至少还有一位大将——首席技术官理查德•汤姆——也离职了。这就让业内专家感慨,到底还有多少员工会跟着这两位拂袖而去。有些人推测,吉拉尔带进公司的很多人——包括来自亚马逊公司(Amazon)的同事和哈佛法学院(Harvard Law School)的同学——可能也会走人,让Hulu的前景陷入更大的不确定性中。Capital Advisors公司股票战略总经理钱宁•史密斯说:“只要看见一个公司参与创办的核心高管离职,这家公司的前途就会让人担忧了。”

    一些行业分析师甚至开始怀疑这是不是Hulu开始走向没落的开端。

    凭借一群大名鼎鼎的媒体巨头做后台,如新闻集团(News Corp)、迪斯尼公司(Walt Disney Co)和康卡斯特公司(Comcast)的NBC环球(NBC Universal),吉拉尔担任首席执行官,Hulu已经走上了增长的正轨,这让一些曾经最苛刻的批评者都感到惊讶。Hulu刚创办时,业内那些持怀疑态度的人士曾为它杜撰了个“小丑公司”(Clown Co)的雅号,因为他们认为,这帮媒体大佬没法让这么一个复杂的技术产品顺利运营。作为亚马逊公司曾经的天才人物,吉拉尔普遍被认为对Hulu的迅猛增长和大获成功居功至伟。去年12月,该公司在一个博客中称,仅2012年其营收就增长了65%。

    

    It came as little surprise when Hulu's maestro Jason Kilar confirmed long-time speculation that he would be leaving his post as the video streaming giant's chief executive. He dropped the bombshell in typical Kilar fashion -- on his blog. This post contained none of the brash, in-your-face dissertations that had so often vexed Hulu's media company owners. This one was poignant, almost melancholic, as Kilar reminisced about a company he transformed from an empty office suite in 2007 into one that has attracted more than 3 million paying subscribers and generated $700 million in revenue in 2012.

    "My decision to depart has been one of the toughest I've ever made," he wrote, but gave no reasons for his exit. No finger-pointing. No long diatribes about the industry or Hulu's owners. Zilch. In fact, the blog left more questions than answers, especially about Hulu's long-term future and its viability in an industry that has become fiercely competitive. (See Hulu's network drama in Fortune.)

    At least one other employee -- chief technology officer Richard Tom -- is also leaving, causing industry experts to wonder how many others may follow the two out the door. Some speculate that many of the people Kilar brought in with him -- colleagues from Amazon (AMZN) and buddies from Harvard Law School -- may also exit, which could create considerable uncertainty at Hulu. "Anytime you start to see key management personnel that have been involved in building a company leaving, then yeah, there's concern about the future of that franchise," says Channing Smith, managing director of equity strategies at Capital Advisors.

    Some industry analysts even wonder if this is the beginning of the end of Hulu.

    With big-name media giants News Corp (NWS), Walt Disney Co (DIS), and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC Universal among its owners and Kilar as its chief executive, Hulu had been on a growth trajectory that had surprised even its toughest critics. Industry skeptics dubbed the entity "Clown Co" when it was first formed because they didn't think a bunch of big media companies could get a sophisticated technology product off the ground. Kilar, a former Amazon whizkid, is largely credited for the company's growth and success. Its revenues climbed 65% in 2012 alone, the company claimed in a blog in December.

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