Hearst Exec George Kliavkoff Becomes CEO of Virtual Reality Startup Jaunt

Jaunt has picked a new CEO: The Palo Alto-based virtual reality (VR) startup Jaunt has picked Hearst executive George Kliavkoff as its new CEO. The appointment comes as Jaunt is switching its focus from being a VR camera maker to becoming a VR publishing platform.

Kliavkoff most recently served as Hearst Ventures president and Hearst Entertainment co-president. Before that, he was NBC Universal’s chief digital officer and key to the creation of Hulu. Earlier in his career, he was VP at MLB Advanced Media.

During an interview Monday, Kliavkoff told Variety that part of his career had long been to look for the next big thing – which eventually led him to VR. “This is going to be the next big thing in video,” he said.

Jaunt made itself a name for the development of a virtual reality camera system, which it officially introduced as a commercial product a little over a year ago. However, the VR camera business is getting increasingly competitive. Seasoned action cam maker GoPro recently introduced its own virtual reality camera, and Google has partnered with IMAX and China’s Yi Technologies that work directly with its cloud-based JUMP editing and stitching solution.

That’s why in recent months, Jaunt has put a bigger emphasis on the production and distribution of content over its own platform. “We are focused on cinematic virtual reality,” Kliavkoff said Monday. He added that Jaunt will eventually make money with both brands and partners paying for content production and distribution, as well as with directly monetizing VR content. “We are looking at all business models,” he said.

Separately, Jaunt also on Monday announced the promotion of Tom Vance to Head of Content, a new position within the company. The appointment was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

Jaunt has raised more than $100 million from Disney, Google Ventures, BSkyB, Evolution Media Partners and China Media Capital and others. The company also launched a JV in China earlier this year in partnership with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group.

Update: 11:23am: This post was updated with a mention of the promotion of Tom Vance.

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