Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos to Step Down

CEO of Fullscreen George Strompolos  - Getty-H 2018
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Strompolos will stay on with the company he founded in an advisory role.

Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos is stepping down from the company he founded eight months after he sold the remainder of the business to AT&T's Otter Media. 

Strompolos announced the news in a letter to staff provided to The Hollywood Reporter. In it, he said that he will transition into an advisory role with the digital media business. "After spending some time away from work and reflecting on my own personal journey, I have decided that now is the right time for me to step down as CEO," he wrote. 

Otter COO Andy Forssell will continue to operate the business and leaders will report into the Hulu alum, who joined Fullscreen in 2015 and transitioned to Otter earlier this year. 

Strompolos, a veteran of YouTube, started Fullscreen to aggregate the audiences of thousands of YouTube creators and help them boost their advertising revenue, a business that became known as a multi-channel network. He sold a majority stake in Fullscreen to Otter Media (formerly a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group) in 2015 in a deal that valued the business at the time at between $200 million and $300 million. He completed the sale of the business to Otter Media in January of this year. 

Over the years, the Fullscreen business evolved to include live events, merchandise and content production. The company also acquired genre production company Rooster Teeth and launched a short-lived subscription video app. The Fullscreen app was shut down last fall and resulted in the layoff of around 25 employees.

But following a number of high-profile (and high-value) MCN sales — including Maker Studios to Disney and AwesomenessTV to DreamWorks Animation — the market has cooled for digital media businesses as they try to compete for ad dollars with giants Facebook and Google. While many MCNs pulled back on that model, Fullscreen is one of the few that has remained committed to helping a large number of creators manage their channels and sell advertisements around their content. 

Meanwhile, earlier this summer, AT&T bought out The Chernin Group's stake in Otter Media and has absorbed the business into its WarnerMedia group. AT&T veteran Tony Goncalves oversees Otter, which earlier this year integrated Fullscreen into its business by appointing Forssell to a broader role within the organization.

"Building Fullscreen has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life," Strompolos wrote in his memo to staff. "We knew early on that online video, the smartphone and social media would change the world. Together we built a first-of-its-kind company that empowers a diverse spectrum of creative voices and redefines how brands approach their marketing in the modern era. I will never forget the friendships, the late night sessions, the challenges, the wins, the work, the laughs we've had and the culture we built. Thank you."