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Kathy Savitt Leaves Yahoo to Lead STX Entertainment’s New Digital Unit

UPDATED: Independent studio STX Entertainment signaled its intent to make a strong push into the digital content and distribution space by hiring Yahoo executive Kathy Savitt to head STX Digital.

Savitt, who has served as chief marketing officer and head of media at Yahoo, was named the first president of STX’s new digital unit, where she will be responsible for the creation and distribution of original content in the online world.

The studio said the move furthers its ambition “of becoming a true creative haven for the world’s top entertainment talent” by expanding beyond its film and television base. Robert Simonds, chairman and CEO of STX Entertainment, and STX President Sophie Watts jointly announced the new hire on Friday.

Savitt led global brand, product and performance marketing, audience engagement strategies, and original editorial and video content creation for Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports. During her tenure, the company launched more than a dozen new digital magazines and original video programming, including live concerts via Yahoo Live Nation. Other projects included Paul Feig’s “Other Space” and Mike Tolin’s “Sin City Saints.”

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer was said to be distressed at the loss of her top marketing exec. A company spokesman said in a statement that the tech firm is moving ahead. “While we don’t have specific details to share at this time,” the rep said, “we have strong leaders in both Yahoo’s media and marketing organizations who will continue to drive the business forward.”

In a statement, Simonds called Savitt’s expertise in the digital space “unparalleled” and predicted STX Digital would become “a new and disruptive force in the entertainment industry” and allow it to “tell compelling stories to a global audience.” Watts said the addition of Savitt to the digital unit would allow the company to offer talent the opportunity to spread their creations across all platforms — “bridging the worlds between film, television, music and digital.”

Simonds noted in an interview how the explosion of online platforms had create a “desperate” need for more quality content. “Not just for serialized and long form content but for shorter form content. And there is a need for premium story-tellers that just hasn’t been met,” Simonds said. “We are going to create a funnel to bring those premium story tellers to the space.”

In STX’s statement, Savitt heralded the company’s creation of an environment where the audience is in control and “each film or show has to earn its space in their time on its own merit.”

The company will put up enough money to allow Savitt to go on a “hiring spree” for to build the new STX Digital, Simonds said. Several personnel additions are expected before the end of the year. Projects to be produced and distributed by the new group will follow shortly after that.

Prior to joining Yahoo, Savitt founded and served as CEO of Lockerz, a company with the mission of revolutionizing the way Generation Z discovers and consumes content and products. She also served as an executive with American Eagle Outfitters and, before that, as a vice president for strategic communications, content and entertainment initiatives at Amazon.

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