Disney’s $500 million-plus acquisition of Maker Studios is the biggest example yet of Hollywood’s appetite to assimilate the DNA of youth-skewing YouTube multichannel networks. But it’s a two-way street — and MCNs are just as eager to acquire studio smarts.
StyleHaul, an MCN focused on fashion and beauty, has hired Mia Goldwyn, Paramount Pictures’ VP of biz dev for digital. In the newly created position of chief content officer, Goldwyn will oversee the company’s original programming strategy, including expansion into new digital channels and scripted genres.
“We’re bringing on someone who is a true pioneer in the digital space, and we need that to really connect those two dots,” StyleHaul president and CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski said.
Goldwyn, 34, helped relaunch Paramount Digital Entertainment, the studio behind digital series “Burning Love,” produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour shingle. The comedy series debuted on Yahoo and was picked up by E!. A 13-year veteran of the studio, she worked across multiple business groups, including digital, business development and strategy, licensing, and home media in the U.S. and abroad.
StyleHaul caters to an 18-34 female demo with its 4,000-plus YouTube channels, which comprise fashion tips, entertainment news and brief branded-content segments. Goldwyn is charged with developing scripted genres, including comedies, dramas and reality-TV spoofs, in partnership with FremantleMedia North America.
“We’re going to take existing, proven formats Fremantle has experience with — like ‘Idol’ — and take those to digital,” Goldwyn said. StyleHaul in January debuted its first Fremantle-produced show, talkshow “The Crew” hosted by four British lads, and the companies plan to launch a total of 10 original series over the next two years.
At Paramount, Goldwyn was “creative about the packaging and financing of these programs,” Horbaczewski said. “There’s been a long history of trying to take television and make it work in the digital space, and you’ve seen what Paramount has been able to accomplish.”
Goldwyn was born and raised in Bulgaria before her family moved to L.A. when she was 11. Her first job out of college was as an intern with Paramount. In StyleHaul, she saw an opportunity to extend the digital upstart’s brand to longer-form content. “I am a believer that you have to take risks sometimes,” she said. “If there was any hesitation (about joining StyleHaul), it’s because Paramount has been my home since I was very young.”
To date, StyleHaul has raised $17 million in funding from RTL Group (parent company of FremantleMedia), Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (which owns a majority stake in RTL) and venture-capital firm RezVen Partners. “Mia’s extensive international experience will help drive StyleHaul’s development into a global media brand,” RTL Group VP of strategy Giles Drew said in a statement.
Other recent StyleHaul hires include James Stafford, formerly Google’s head of branded content in Europe, who now runs StyleHaul U.K.; Alison Kennedy, formerly of Glam Media, as chief revenue officer; and and Seth Klein, previously with IAC’s CityGrid Media, as CFO.
On YouTube, StyleHaul’s 4,000-plus channels have 138 million subscribers. More than 53 million monthly unique viewers watch more than 21 million hours of video per month across the MCN’s properties.