Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein Exits, Russell Arons Named GM

Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein is leaving the company to pursue other interests, a move coming four months after Warner Bros. acquired full control of the gamer and fandom digital network.

Warner Bros. has named Russell Arons, previously Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, as general manager of Machinima. WB said Arons — who has more than two decades of experience in gaming, digital media and toy industries — will work with Gutstein on a “multiweek transition plan” after which Gutstein will leave the company to pursue “entrepreneurial projects.”

WB bought full control of Machinima in November 2016, in a deal that sources said valued Machinima at slightly under $100 million. It now operates within the Warner Bros. Digital Networks Group. Previously, the studio was an investor in the programming service along with Google, MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Coffin Capital and Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise.

Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group and president of Warner Bros. Digital Networks Group., called Arons “a terrific creative executive with exceptional audience experience and brand building capabilities.”

“In her new role, Russell will deepen Machinima’s relationship with an audience that’s important to many Warner Bros. divisions to further optimize our marketing and direct-to-consumer activities and serve as a hub for social video across the company,” Hunegs said in a statement.

Hunegs also thanked Gutstein for leading Machinima over the last three years. “He’s done a great job leading Machinima’s team as they’ve strengthened their creator network, improved audience engagement and launched a content studio,” he said.

Gutstein, who joined Machinima in 2014 from cable network Ovation, wrote in a memo to staffers Friday that “it has been my greatest professional honor to come to work here, for you, every day these past three years.”

He said he joined the company “to re-invigorate a struggling digital brand and a team with a broken spirit and help it rediscover what made it great, so it could once again thrive. Together, we have wildly succeeded at this challenge.”

Under Gutstein, Machinima doubled its audience reach, shifting from a YouTube-only multichannel network company to a production and distribution company with deals across major social networks, over-the-top services, pay-TV providers and even traditional TV networks. Partners include Sony Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime Video, Verizon’s Go90, China’s Sohu and the CW Network. Worldwide, Machinima’s network generates 3.8 billion monthly video views for a total of 19 billion minutes of video watched per month, according to Warner Bros.

Before Arons joined Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2009, she was head of marketing for Electronic Arts’ EA Play division, which included “The Sims” and “MySims” franchises, “Harry Potter” and the Hasbro portfolio based on popular toy brands and board games. Prior to joining EA in 2007, Arons served as VP of marketing at InfoSpace and before that spent a decade at Mattel.

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