UPDATED, April 6: Even more WarnerMedia execs are exiting their posts amid the company’s imminent merger with Discovery. In addition to the departures of CEO Jason Kilar, content chief Ann Sarnoff, and HBO Max General Manager Andy Forssell reported Tuesday, WarnerMedia on Wednesday confirmed that six others are also departing.
They are CFO Jennifer Biry, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer Jim Cummings, EVP and Chief Revenue Officer Tony Goncalves, EVP Communications and Chief Inclusion Officer Christy Haubegger, EVP and General Counsel Jim Meza, and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom.
Biry spent over two decades in finance roles at AT&T.
Cummings joined what was then Time Warner in 2010.
Goncalves joined DirecTV in 2007, before it was acquired by AT&T, and has worked in various roles at the telecom giant since then.
Haubegger has been at WarnerMedia for nearly three years, she joined the company after a nearly two-decade stint at CAA.
Meza joined AT&T in 2000 and successfully defended it against the Department of Justice’s attempt to block the AT&T-Time Warner Merger.
Tom and Kilar worked together at Hulu and the pair co-founded Vessel together. Kilar tapped him to join WarnerMedia in 2020.
Previously published on April 5: Ann Sarnoff and Andy Forssell won’t be a part of Warner Bros. Discovery. WarnerMedia on Tuesday announced that Sarnoff, the chair and CEO of the company’s studios and networks group, will leave her role as soon as the impending merger with Discovery Inc. is complete. Forssell, HBO Max’s EVP and general manager, will leave before the deal is closed.
It comes just hours after their boss, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, exited the company.
Longtime Discovery chief David Zaslav will lead the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery, when the two former standalone companies officially come together as one within the next few days. The expectation is that their respective streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ will begin to merge in an attempt to create a formidable challenger to streaming leaders like Netflix and Disney.
“I want to thank Ann for all of her leadership during a transformational period for the company and our industry. She has been a passionate and committed steward of the world’s most formidable creative engine and has led with integrity, focus and hard work in bringing WarnerMedia’s businesses, brands and workforce closer together. There is a lot of exciting momentum at the company and I appreciate all of her counsel and partnership the last few months putting us in a position to succeed as we launch Warner Bros. Discovery. We all wish her great success in the future,” Zaslav said in a statement.
After Kilar joined WarnerMedia as CEO in 2020, he implemented a drastic restructuring process that saw Sarnoff’s duties expand to oversee all of the company’s content across streaming, cable TV, and theatrical — content creation had previously been siloed and overseen by various executives across WarnerMedia’s sprawling holdings.
That mirrored similar restructuring at Disney. CEO Bob Chapek reorganized the company so that content creation was divorced from distribution. It’s unclear if the Zaslav-led company will continue that trend; WarnerMedia’s release noted that Sarnoff’s role “will not be duplicated” at Warner Bros. Discovery.
“Ann is a world-class executive and the definition of a selfless leader. It has been remarkable to watch Ann bring together formerly disparate creative teams, invest in those teams, resulting in creative excellence and business results unlike this company has seen before. Ann is a first-tier human being and I am honored to work with someone of her caliber,” Kilar said in a statement.
Under Kilar’s leadership, WarnerMedia made some of the most aggressive moves into streaming among legacy media companies. The most notorious decision came in December 2020, when WarnerMedia announced the entirety of Warner Bros.’ 2021 theatrical slate would premiere in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. It blindsided production partners and hurt the studio’s reputation as Hollywood’s most talent-friendly studio, but helped give HBO Max a boost in the streaming wars.
Sarnoff joined Warner Bros. in 2019 as chair and CEO, she had previously served as president of BBC Studios Americas.
Forssell was named to the HBO Max post in 2019. He previously helped build WarnerMedia’s Otter Media as COO.