Chip Canter, the GM in charge of Verizon’s millennial-focused go90 video service, is out, the company confirmed to Business Insider.
Canter, a former NBCU exec, joined go90 last April, a few months after the service’s launch. Go90 was conceived as an ad-supported cross between YouTube and Netflix that would broadly appeal to young people, but it has struggled to attract an audience since its debut in October 2015.
In preparation for go90’s debut, Verizon made big content deals with little oversight, often for slates of shows over multiple years, according to multiple go90 insiders interviewed by Business Insider. Verizon spent $200 million last year on programming, according to a former member of the go90 team briefed on the budget.
Canter began to bring some discipline to the process at go90, and to more closely target audience segments, former employees said. But they also said he walked into a tough situation, with bad deals already signed, and a struggling tech platform. Now he’s gone, as VideoInk first reported.
It’s Vessel’s turn
Last month, Verizon made a sweeping attempt to fix go90’s tech by releasing a total overhaul of the tech platform. This new version was built by a team from Verizon-acquired Vessel, after Verizon fired over 150 people from go90 in January, mostly those working on the tech.
That team will now be in the driver’s seat. “Since integration, Richard Tom and the Vessel team have been on-boarded and are fully up and running and have delivered a strong product,” a Verizon spokesperson said. “Effective immediately, Richard and his team will assume full responsibility for all mobile digital video products.”
Tom is a former Hulu exec who cofounded Vessel along with former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. Vessel, which launched in early 2015, was widely praised for its recommendation and discovery engine. The problem was that it simply failed to find a big enough audience for its $2.99-a-month subscription model built around YouTube stars.
In October, Verizon bought Vessel — which had raised more than $130 million from venture capitalists — for an undisclosed amount. Verizon then shut Vessel down and the team got to work rebuilding the go90 platform.
Verizon seems to be happy with the work they did. Now it’s their chance to see if they can pull go90 out of the doldrums.