There was a time in recent history when Robert Kyncl was the sole senior figure at YouTube tasked with most frequently interacting with the music industry.
Since then, Kyncl’s direct dealings with powerful music rightsholders have lessened somewhat, but – as Chief Business Officer at YouTube – his global influence at the Alphabet/Google-owned company has continued to grow.
Until now, that is – as we learn that Kyncl is officially stepping down from his role at YouTube after more than 12 years with the platform.
As first reported by Variety, the news was confirmed by YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, today (August 29).
In an internal note to staff, Wojcicki wrote: “After 12 years of building YouTube’s business organization into the powerhouse that it is today, with a talented global team, millions of successful creators, and strong partnerships with many industries, Robert has decided to leave YouTube in 2023 to start the next chapter in his career.”
What will that next chapter involve? We shall see.
There are, of course, a plethora of possibilities for the US-based, Czech-born Kyncl and his next move over in Media Land.
Yet it would be remiss of MBW to not remind you that, earlier this summer, we listed 53 executives that Warner Music Group‘s board might consider to be the company’s new CEO, following the planned exit of WMG’s current boss, Steve Cooper.
Robert Kyncl’s name was on that list.
Kyncl therefore becomes the first seriously-mooted potential new CEO of WMG to publicly walk from their current job.
Adding tantalization to such speculation: The fact that Kyncl is remaining a part of YouTube’s executive team until next year.
Warner has confirmed that it is in no hurry to transition Steve Cooper out of its business and draft in a new CEO.
Also: resigning executives, off to join new companies, are rarely allowed out of their fluffy corporate handcuffs too quickly.
Kyncl’s four-month-plus wait to officially leave YouTube might be telling in that regard.
Weighing against the likelihood of Kyncl joining Warner as its new Chief Exec? A few things.
For one: The fact Kyncl’s exit from YouTube has been announced merely two months after Steve Cooper confirmed his own departure from his current employer.
In a memo to Warner staff back in June, Cooper said: “The process of finding a new CEO will take time, and we’ll be looking at candidates both internally and externally. We expect the transition to happen by the end of 2023.”
Sounds like an exhaustive search was planned, right?
Would Warner really abandon that exhaustive search for a big, loud “you’re hired!” simply if an exec of Kyncl’s caliber made themselves available?
“After 12 incredible years, I’ve decided to move on to the next challenge soon.”
Robert Kyncl, confirming his depature from YouTube today
The speedy hiring of a new CEO for a publicly-traded entity like WMG may be unlikely for other reasons, too.
By trading on the Nasdaq, Warner works under the glare of scrutiny from institutional and individual shareholders. It has a fiduciary duty to make well-considered major decisions on their behalf.
In other words, don’t bet on Kyncl joining WMG.
Unless you like a long-odds flutter, that is. In which case, sure, throw down some chips.
Commenting on his departure from YouTube today, Kyncl said: “YouTube is a great place to be at, and a great place to be from!
After 12 incredible years, I’ve decided to move on to the next challenge soon.
“Working alongside creators, artists, media and music companies to transform media has been a privilege.”
Outside of his dealings with the music industry over YouTube music licensing and Content ID, Kyncl – who worked at Netflix before joining YouTube in 2010 – was also responsible in recent years for leading the creation of YouTube’s original content team.
In Susan Wojcicki’s memo today, the YouTube CEO confirmed that Kyncl would be succeeded in his current role by Mary Ellen Coe.
Coe will be promoted to the position of Chief Business Officer at YouTube from her role as President of Customer Solutions at Google. She has spent the last 10 years at Google.
You can read Susan Wojcicki’s full memo announcing the departure of Robert Kyncl below.
After 12 years of building YouTube’s business organization into the powerhouse that it is today, with a talented global team, millions of successful creators, and strong partnerships with many industries, Robert has decided to leave YouTube in 2023 to start the next chapter in his career. Under his leadership, YouTube forged new relationships and partnerships in music, traditional media and tech, and our creator ecosystem – without him, the term “YouTuber” wouldn’t be a mainstream term. Thanks to Robert and his leadership team, we are meaningfully contributing to the media industry, having paid more than $30B to creators, artists and media companies in the last 3 years. We owe so much of our growth and impact to Robert’s leadership, and I want to celebrate his amazing contribution to YouTube.
Change gives us the opportunity to examine where we are and where we need to go, and I’m really excited to share that we’ve hired a new Chief Business Officer, Mary Ellen Coe, to lead the business organization. Mary Ellen has spent the last 10 years with Google, most recently as President of Customer Solutions in GBO (Global Business Organization), serving millions of customers and thousands of partners globally. She has extensive experience working with small businesses and can bring that expertise to our work with creators, many of whom are their own small businesses. Before Google, she worked across consumer, media, and tech for more than a decade as a Partner with McKinsey & Company. I’ve had the privilege of working with Mary Ellen over the years and she is a smart, effective leader who cares deeply about our users and her people. She will start October 3, and Christina, Gautam, Lyor, Pedro, Tara, and our recently hired VP of Product Partnerships, Miguel, will report to her.
Given the complexity of our business, I appreciate that Robert is going to stay on to ensure a smooth transition of leadership and complete key projects in music and product partnerships.
I want to thank Robert for his dedication to YouTube all these years. He’s exceptional at what he does and I’m so grateful for the many years we’ve been able to work together. I’ll miss his candor, authenticity and humor – he is quite funny!
And please join me in welcoming Mary Ellen to YouTube.
SusanMusic Business Worldwide