The CEO of a $650 million YouTube juggernaut is stepping down

Brian Robbins, the CEO of $US650 million YouTube powerhouse AwesomenessTV, is stepping down.

AwesomenessTV started in 2012, as a YouTube channel focused on teens and tweens, but has evolved with the digital video landscape and now has shows in places like Verizon’s Go90, YouTube Red, and even Netflix. It’s one of the companies the media establishment is betting on to capture the interest of the next generation of smartphone-addicted video customers.

AwesomenessTV’s ownership structure has changed over the last few years. In 2013, DreamWorks Animation bought it for “at least $US33 million,” according to Variety. When Comcast bought DreamWorks, it took over the majority stake. But Verizon and Hearst also own a piece of AwesomenessTV, to the tune of 24.5% each. Verizon’s investment valued the company at $US650 million.

Brett Boutier, AwesomenessTV’s president, will take the reins.

In a memo to staff Wednesday announcing his departure, Robbins didn’t give much away. “After an amazing ride, five fantastic years building an awesome company and brand alongside an incredible team of people, the time is right for me to pass the baton and seek new challenges,” he wrote.

The big question is what’s next for AwesomenessTV.

Verizon and AwesomenessTV recently killed plans for a premium service designed to be an “sort of HBO for millennials,” according to Variety. Their partnership will instead focus on Go90, Verizon’s free mobile app.

Last week, at the Code Media conference, Robbins said he wanted to open AwesomenessTV up to political coverage in the wake of President Trump.

“I’ve kind of been urging our company to really move this way for the last year, and it’s mostly because — obviously I care about what’s going on and am very impacted by it personally — but in my house, my 18 and 17 year old … until this past year, all we talked about was basketball. We’ve grown up talking about sports and stuff, and all of a sudden, all of our conversations with my two boys is politics, and it’s about what’s going on,” Robbins said.

But now Robbins is out, and it will be left to Boutier to chart the direction of the company.

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