Luminary Taps Former HBO Exec as CEO

Simon Sutton HBO-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of HBO

Simon Sutton was most recently chief revenue officer and president of global distribution at the cable network.

Podcast startup Luminary has tapped former HBO executive Simon Sutton as its new CEO. 

Sutton, who most recently served as chief revenue officer and president of global distribution for the premium cable company, joins Luminary at a pivotal moment. The subscription podcast service launched six months ago and quickly drew the ire of the podcast community for streaming their shows in its free tier without a pre-existing business agreement. 

Now, the company has raised an additional $30 million in funding from existing investors, including NEA, and new investors, and co-founder and CEO Matt Sacks is moving into the role of executive chairman to make room for Sutton. His role change comes a few weeks after the departure of co-founder Joe Purzycki. 

"It is hard to imagine a more perfect, positive, and transformative development for Luminary," Sacks said Thursday in a statement. "Simon is a seasoned media executive who at one point or another ran every functional area of one of the most successful subscription content businesses in the world, consistently growing subscribers, revenue and profit."

Sutton, who had been at HBO for 14 years before his departure from the company in March, added, "The global market for podcasting is large and growing quickly, and Luminary has the right model for the future. The Luminary strategy is familiar to me and the team has made extraordinary progress in a very short time. I look forward to working with them to drive the business forward." 

Luminary announced in March that it had raised nearly $100 million to launch an $8-per-month subscription platform for a slate of ad-free exclusive podcasts from Lena Dunham, Trevor Noah, Conan O'Brien and others. But when the service launched, podcast studios were surprised to find that their shows were being offered in a free Luminary tier without permission. The New York Times withheld The Daily from the service, and Spotify-owned Gimlet podcasts were also not available via the app. 

The company has yet to disclose how many subscribers the app has signed up since launch.