Spotify’s Ken Parks Joins OTT Startup Pluto TV

Ken Parks PlutoTV
Scott Gries

Ken Parks, Spotify’s first U.S. employee, who led the streaming-music service’s global deals with record companies, is leaving after eight years to join Pluto TV as executive chairman.

At Pluto TV, which delivers an over-the-top video service organized into cable-like channels, Parks will serve as chairman of the board of directors. He also will assume full-time executive duties leading Pluto TV’s content, distribution and monetization efforts and other business initiatives.

Parks, who has served as an adviser to Pluto TV since 2014, will be based in New York, where he will open an East Coast office for the L.A.-based startup.

“The addition of a world-class executive like Ken Parks to Pluto TV is a transformative moment for our company,” Tom Ryan, Pluto TV co-founder and CEO, said in announcing the appointment. “Ken’s experience in building a successful global entertainment service will be invaluable to us as we capitalize on our strong momentum to rapidly grow Pluto TV.”

Parks most recently served as Spotify’s chief content officer and has been with the company since 2007. Spotify today has more than 20 million paying subscribers and generated $1.3 billion in revenue in 2014. Upon joining Pluto TV, he will remain a special adviser to Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek. Prior to Spotify, he was a senior executive at companies including EMI Music and Reuters.

“I believe Pluto TV has an enormous opportunity to define the future of television and online video,” Parks said in a statement. “The timing is perfect for Pluto TV to reach massive global scale and become one of the premier consumer video platforms in the world.”

Pluto TV’s service includes more than 100 curated channels in a menu that looks like a traditional cable TV guide. Channels organized around themes like ’70s TV shows, latenight television or “cats 24/7″ play scheduled video segments in a continuous, TV-like stream. Among other content partners, Pluto TV recently cut a distribution deal with Hulu covering nearly all of Hulu’s free TV and movie content.

Founded in 2013, Pluto TV has raised about $13 million from U.S. Venture Partners (USVP), UTA, the U.K.’s Sky, Chicago Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Luminari Capital, Terry Semel’s Windsor Media and Pritzker Group.

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  1. Jacques Strappe says:

    Competition is good for sure but I can see these streaming services popping up all over the web. It is going to be get very confusing for consumers and possibly very expensive if they don’t exercise care in choosing the right services that fulfill all their content needs. Cable is in a slow death spiral with the OTT services being created by HBO and others. As soon as ESPN creates their own OTT service, it will be like the canary in a coal mine, signaling to all the other cable networks to find a streaming home. Comcast, everyone’s favorite despised cable monopoly now offers their own streaming service that resembles a lot of what they were offering via cable. Sadly, for many folks Comcast remains the only viable option for broadband service. So, Comcast not only dictates how far their enslaved customers bend over but also how deep Comcast penetrates into their bank accounts as well.

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