Ricky Strauss to Step Down From Disney+ Content, Marketing Post

Ricky Strauss - Publicity - H 2019
Matt Winkelmeyer

The longtime marketing exec, who joined Disney+ in 2018 to help spearhead its launch, will leave the company at the end of January.

Ricky Strauss is stepping down from his role as president of content and marketing for Disney+, the latest in a string of executive departures for the fast-growing streaming service.

Strauss, a Disney veteran who spent a number of years leading its film marketing group, told his staff on Wednesday that he would be leaving the company. "After nine years with The Walt Disney Company, and much contemplation over the past several months, I have come to the decision that it is time for me to move on to pursue new creative endeavors," he wrote in an email that was shared with THR.

In a separate email to staff, Disney International Operations and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Rebecca Campbell noted that Disney's October reorganization, which placed content development squarely with its studio engines while focusing distribution decision-making under a new division led by Kareem Daniel, significantly changed the nature of Strauss' role within the company. "As Bob Iger has shared with me on many occasions, Ricky’s leadership of the Disney+ Content & Marketing efforts leading up to and following the launch of Disney+ has been remarkable — and we are so appreciative of his expertise, passion and care," Campbell wrote. She also announced that Joe Earley, who has been leading brand marketing and operations for Disney+ since early 2019, would add content curation for the streamer to his purview, reporting to Disney+ president Michael Paull.

Strauss joined the Disney+ team in June 2018 after having served six years as the film group's president of marketing. His appointment, after years shepherding crown jewel franchises to the big screen, signaled that then CEO Iger was serious about the company's move into streaming.

Disney+ launched in November 2019 to serve as the direct-to-consumer hub for the company's vast library of programming, including titles from Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney Animation and National Geographic. The service attracted nearly 87 million subscribers in its first 13 months, far surpassing Disney's forecasts.

But Disney's focus on streaming also presented new challenges for a company that had long been organized around more traditional film and television distribution. To address its changing priorities, the company reorganized last fall, consolidating all distribution under the newly created Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Group. Content creation and development for Disney+, meanwhile, has formally moved under the various studio groups.

Strauss is among several early Disney+ executives to leave the company. Last year, Disney direct-to-consumer chairman Kevin Mayer stepped down from his role to become CEO of TikTok after he was passed over for he Disney CEO role. Agnes Chu, formerly senior vp content for Disney+, took a new role running Condé Nast Entertainment over the summer.

With Strauss' departure, Brian Henderson, who oversees content curation for Disney-owned Hulu and had for a time reported to Strauss, will now report to Hulu president Kelly Campbell.

"I am incredibly grateful to have had the chance to work for a company that I always dreamed of as a kid — and have been able to play a role in defining its future," Strauss wrote in his note to staff. "The launch of Disney+ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and I will never forget the journey we traveled together."