Go90, Verizon’s free, ad-based OTT service for mobile devices tailored for millennial audiences, is laying off 155 employees amid a consolidation of certain offices, and a move that follows Verizon’s Oct. 2016 acquisition of technology and software of Vessel, the YouTube-like competitor started up by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar.
Variety reported on the layoffs on Monday, adding that the go90 service is being rebuilt by the team that joined the company via the Vessel acquisition, and that Vessel co-founder and former Hulu CTO Richard Tom has taken charge of go90. Variety said Verizon confirmed that Tom is heading up go90’s engineering and operations team as CTO of Verizon Digital Entertainment.
In a statement, Verizon confirmed some of the details of the job reduction at go90, but denied that a strategy change is underway:
“Our focus with go90 and our Verizon digital media efforts are to fulfill our strategy of leveraging Verizon content investments, enhancing user experience and strengthening our advertising infrastructure. Fulfilling this strategy has resulted in some duplicative resources and has required organizational changes impacting 155 employees as we consolidate offices in Los Angeles, San Jose and New York. These changes are not indicative to a change in our strategy and we remain committed to rapidly enhancing our existing online video products and delivering new products.”
A person familiar with said most of the changes affect the go90 engineering team.
Verizon has not released much data about viewership of go90, though it’s reportedly struggled to catch on with the younger audiences it’s seeking in a meaningful way.
Speaking at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference last month, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam acknowledged that there’s been a “lot of hype” about go90 early on, and that the offering is considered “patient money inside the business.”
McAdam noted that viewership on go90 was up to 30 minutes per month in the recent quarter, and that the service was see strong volumes when it released new episodes of series such as The Runner, a reality show/competition series involving Academy Award-winning filmmakers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon along with Adaptive Studios) and Pilgrim Media Group
More detail about go90 and its future could come up later today on Verizon’s Q4 2016 earnings call.