Disney+'s Agnes Chu to Lead Condé Nast Entertainment

WIE_Agnes Chu - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Disney

The Disney veteran, who has worked closely with Bob Iger over the years, joins the publishing powerhouse amid a reckoning about its corporate culture.

Agnes Chu, who helped to lead the launch of Disney+, is leaving the company for a new role running Condé Nast Entertainment. 

As president of the publishing company's entertainment arm, she will oversee video content across digital, social and streaming platforms and will also lead efforts to adapt its IP into film and TV projects. 

Chu's appointment comes amid a reckoning at the magazine publisher, which employees accused of fostering a culture of racism and discrimination. She will become the second person of color to currently hold a senior executive position at the company. 

"Agnes is a rare creative executive that can harness both vision and operational expertise to produce culture-defining content and audience experiences,” Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch said in a statement. "Her leadership was instrumental to the success of one of the largest media launches in the last decade and we are thrilled for her to join us and help drive the continued growth of our brands and audience through the power of video storytelling."

Chu joins CNE after a decade at Disney, where she held a number of roles including at ABC and Imagineering. She also spent three years working directly with former Disney CEO Bob Iger as a vice president in his office. When it came time for Disney to begin building its streaming future, Chu was one of the first people Iger tapped to lead the effort. As senior vp content, she worked with the company's various studios to assemble its slate of originals — including breakout The Mandalorian — and to build out its library of legacy programming.

Disney+ has been a success for the company, attracting nearly 55 million subscribers since its November launch and garnering 19 Emmy nominations. 

Chu is the second high-profile executive to leave Disney's direct-to-consumer group, following division chairman Kevin Mayer's departure to become CEO of TikTok earlier this year. There were growing questions about what team's role would look like going forward as Disney+ continued to work alongside its studio suppliers to develop new shows and movies. Disney has no news about replacing her at this time. Her direct reports, including vp scripted originals Sarah Shepard and vp nonscripted originals Dan Silver, will report to Disney+ president of content and marketing Ricky Strauss in the interim.

In a memo to staff that a source shared with THR, Strauss said of Chu, "She will be greatly missed but as ‘employee #1’  she is part of the Disney+ DNA and her impact will be felt for many years to come."

At CNE, Chu will oversee a group that produces more than 4,000 videos a year for its various brands, including Vogue, Wired and Architecture Digest. The division is also behind such TV shows as Netflix's Last Chance U and feature films like Only the Brave.

She replaces Oren Katzeff, who, amid the larger conversation about discrimination within the company, was called out for old tweets that were described as sexist and discriminatory. A company spokesman says Katzeff is moving into a new role and that more details would be provided soon.

Chu will also likely be tasked with exploring how to bring more diversity and equity to CNE's digital video efforts following reports that people of color who appear in videos for the Bon Appetit brand were being paid less than their white counterparts. 

"Storytelling has the ability to move people, provoke conversation, and indelibly impact our culture on a global scale, which creates a responsibility that is particularly pivotal today," Chu said in a statement. "The premium brands of Condé Nast have always inspired me, allowing me access to new vantage points and a vision of what is possible. I'm excited to work with Roger, the editors, and the great teams to continue building on the company's incredible legacy, and expanding its remarkable content across all platforms."