Participant Media CEO Jim Berk Resigns

Courtesy of Participant Media
Jim Berk

Jeff Skoll, the billionaire who made his money at eBay, is talking over as CEO on an interim basis.

Participant Media CEO Jim Berk is stepping down, the company announced Friday.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to lead Participant Media,” said Berk. “I am incredibly proud of our collective work to drive change through entertainment, but after more than eight years at Participant, it is the right time for someone else to take the helm. I look forward to the company’s continued success.”

Jeff Skoll, the billionaire who made his money at eBay, is talking over as CEO on an interim basis while searching for a replacement. While praising Berk’s contributions, the abrupt nature of the change (effective immediately) and the lack of any insight into what Berk will be doing next indicate this is an organizational shakeup.

This change comes nearly three years after Participant launched the Pivot cable network, which has had a hard time finding enough hit programming and getting carriage on cable systems. It launched in 40 million TV homes (thanks to two acquisitions of other networks) but still is only in 48 million — less than half the U.S. TV homes.

After scoring with several big movies, including An Inconvenient Truth and The Help, subsequent pictures have not had the same level of success at the box office.

Skoll formed Participant not only to make movies and TV shows, and launch a cable channel, but also to push for positive social change.

Skoll, however, waxed optimistic in a statement announcing Berk’s departure: “I’ve never been more energized or excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for Participant. We remain committed to inspiring and compelling social change to the world’s most pressing problems through the power of great stories and engaging our audiences to take meaningful action.”