Sony's Funimation Adds Key Hires to Grow Anime Distributor (Exclusive)

Asa Suehira and Kaliel Roberts - Publicity - Split - H 2020
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Asa Suehira becomes chief content officer, while former Discovery tech exec Kaliel Roberts is named chief product officer.

Sony Pictures Television's Funimation has bolstered its management ranks as the anime content unit names industry veteran Asa Suehira, formerly vp international business development for Sony anime platform Aniplex, as its chief content officer.

And Kaliel Roberts, most recently senior vp product and technology at Discovery Communications, boards Funimation as chief product officer. Both hires will report to Funimation general manager Colin Decker, a former executive at rival Crunchyroll, and will be based at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.

"Asa and Kaliel bring unparalleled expertise, leadership and depth to our growing business. In his 20+ year career in the anime industry, Asa has had a long track record of connecting creators," said Decker in a statement. In his new role, Suehira will oversee content investment, acquisition and partnerships across streaming, home entertainment, licensing, theatrical, gaming and merchandising.

While at Aniplex, Suehira oversaw international sales of anime series in Europe and the Middle East and supervised the anime distributor’s marketing, publicity and advertising efforts. "As our streaming service continues to grow at an increased rate, having a best-in-class product experience across all platforms is one of the most critical ways we serve anime fans around the world. Kaliel has overseen significant scale video products, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her talent and leadership at Funimation to take us to the next level," Decker added.

At Funimation, Roberts will oversee product and technology strategy, with a focus on the user experience after holding product roles at Discovery Yahoo! and Current TV. She most recently oversaw digital strategy, product management and design for Discovery as the media giant drives toward the direct-to-consumer streaming space.

Funimation, which specializes in releasing anime, or Japanese animation, online in the U.S. and internationally, was founded 25 years ago by Japan-born Gen Fukunaga. He stepped down as CEO last year to take on a chairman role.

The new hires follow Funimation in September 2019 combining with Aniplex’s anime streaming businesses, Wakanim, and Madman Anime Group to consolidate the FunimationNow streaming platform.

Funimation has a catalog of around 600 titles, with approximately 10,000 hours of anime content available. The company's SVOD service is available in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and with the addition of the Wakanim and Madman Anime Group, operates in 49 countries.