Spotify Loses Content Chief to Online Video Startup

Ken Parks - H 2015
Scott Gries/Courtesy of Spotify

Ken Parks - H 2015

Ken Parks will join the Los Angeles-based over-the-top video company as executive chairman in October.

Online video startup Pluto TV has tapped a longtime Spotify executive to help build out its media partnerships. 

The Los Angeles-based startup, which aggregates free video from across the web into a "lean-back" viewing experience similar to flipping on the television, announced Wednesday morning that Spotify content chief Ken Parks will join the company in October as executive chairman. In his new role, Parks will also assume full-time duties leading Pluto TV's content, distribution and monetization efforts. 

"The addition of a world-class executive like Ken Parks to Pluto TV is a transformative moment for our company," said Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan. "Ken's experience in building a successful global entertainment service will be invaluable to us as we capitalize on our strong momentum to rapidly grow Pluto TV."

Parks, a longtime music lawyer, joined Spotify in 2007 as the Swedish music streaming company's first U.S. employee. He has spearheaded Spotify's negotiations with record labels over the licensing of content and also has led the company's U.S. operations. The New York Times reports that Spotify chief strategy officer Stefan Blom will replace Parks. A spokesman for Spotify declined to comment. 

Parks joined the board of Pluto TV in 2014. He will remain based in New York and will open an East Coast office for the company. 

"I believe Pluto TV has an enormous opportunity to define the future of television and online video," said Parks. "As an advisor since 2014, I've had a front-row seat to the rapid growth the company has achieved so far, and I'm thrilled to join the team full-time."

Pluto TV, which launched last year, has raised nearly $14 million in venture capital from investors including U.S. Venture Partners, Sky, UTA and Universal Music Group. The company's over-the-top video platform — which works on desktop computers and on connected TVs through the Amazon Fire TV, Android TV devices and Chromecast —  is designed to look similar to a television guide, but instead of linear programming, it offers up continuous streams of online video. Pluto TV's more than 100 channels include music videos, news, comedy and kids programming. Some video producers such as Bloomberg TV, Funny or Die and AwesomenessTV have their own dedicated channels on the platform.