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Facebook Hires Ryan Seacrest’s Digital Chief as Head of Entertainment Partnerships (Exclusive)

Sibyl Goldman tapped to lead Hollywood outreach efforts

Facebook has recruited Ryan Seacrest’s digital guru for a new role leading an expanded effort to court Hollywood.

Sibyl Goldman, executive VP of new media at Ryan Seacrest Prods., has exited the “American Idol” host’s production company to become head of entertainment partnerships for the social media giant. She will be based in Los Angeles, where she’ll be charged with building a bigger team focused on outreach efforts to studios, networks and celebrities.

Facebook confirmed the hire of Goldman, who declined comment. “The entertainment industry and Facebook are increasingly intertwined, and Sibyl is a welcome addition to the team focused on creating great experiences for people on Facebook to connect with everything from TV shows to talent,” a Facebook rep told Variety.

Goldman will be based in Facebook’s Playa Vista office, a sign the social behemoth wants to have more of a presence in the very market it has designs on attracting. Facebook currently only keeps ad-sales staff in Los Angeles, but Goldman is expected to add to an existing team of four for its Hollywood outreach efforts.

Goldman will report to Nick Grudin, director of partnerships. She’s part of a division led by Dan Rose, VP of partnerships and Justin Osofsky, VP of media partnerships. Also in the Playa Vista office is a separate unit led by Kay Madati and Howie Stein, who focus on bundling ad-sales opportunities for networks and studios with marketing arrangements on the platform.

Prior to Goldman’s hire, Facebook had Charles Porch in a similar job but he has since segued to a different role at Facebook-owned Instagram.

The appointment comes as Facebook and its arch rival, Twitter, have been locked in a pitched battle to get more famous people and showbiz brands using their respective platforms to drive higher user engagement. Despite its incredible global scale, Facebook has been perceived as lagging its smaller nemesis in this regard, particularly as a social-TV companion. Facebook published research earlier this month indicating its real-time usage in tandem with TV was more powerful than that of Twitter.

But the company has been putting tremendous efforts in recent months to reposition itself as more than just a place for friends to connect with each other. Getting celebrities like Beyonce, who announced her latest album release on Facebook, to make the platform their soapbox of choice is a big part of that mandate.

Facebook also  shares user data in all sorts of manners that either serve programmers’ research efforts or are even incorporated into telecasts, as the company did for the first time last September with ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” via its APIs.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Is Sharing TV Chatter, But What Does That Really Mean?

Bringing Goldman in should also fuel speculation that Facebook will eventually challenge the likes of YouTube by getting into digital content production and distribution, a line they’ve barely crossed to date. Further fueling that speculation is Facebook’s recent embrace of video in its news feed; the company is on the verge of launching an autoplay video-ad product, which it has been testing in recent months with Summit Entertainment in the lead-up to the theatrical release “Divergent.” NBCUniversal also recently used Facebook to stream video content related to the Olympics.

Goldman has been at RSP since July 2012, where she oversees the myriad digital platforms where Seacrest and his many projects maintain massive audiences. In addition, she spearheaded RSP’s foray into original digital programming, which included a Gwyneth Paltrow-led project at AOL last year. Prior to RSP, Goldman was VP of entertainment at Yahoo.

RSP has shifted the focus of its digital efforts toward branded entertainment. With Goldman out, RSP is not replacing her but bolstering its ranks with the hire of Tamar Kaiserman as a senior director, marketing and digital; she previously served as director of trade marketing at Style. RSP is also promoting John Avery to senior director, digital media services. Both Kaiserman and Avery report to Kelly Mullens Brown, president of strategy, marketing and communications at Ryan Seacrest Enterprises.

In an internal memo announcing her exit obtained by Variety, Seacrest wished Goldman well on her new opportunity. “Given her talents, it isn’t so surprising that one of our social media partners recruited her for an important new and impressive gig,” he wrote.

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