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BitTorrent Swaps Chief Execs, Preps LA Office Launch to Double Down on Entertainment

BitTorrent wants to be an entertainment company, again. The San Francisco-based peer-to-peer technology company has hired two new CEOs and appointed other execs with entertainment industry background and has plans to open a sizable office and production facility in Los Angeles as it looks to double down on content distribution.

BitTorrent is now being led by Co-CEOs Jeremy Johnson and Robert Delamar, with longtime CEO Eric Klinker moving to a technical role, according to a spokesperson. Johnson officially joined BitTorrent as Chief Strategy Officer, and previously worked for Silverspring Networks and Sony Online Entertainment. Delamar previously led TV services provider UUX and Mexico-based Netflix competitor Totalmovie.

They’re being aided by David Chidekel who joins the company as its new head of bizdev, with a focus on content acquisition and sponsorship deals. Chidekel previously was a partner at the entertainment law offices of Ritholz Levy Sanders Chidekel & Fields. And finally, the company is also promoting Straith Schreder to be BitTorrent’s new VP of creative initiatives and head the opening of the new Los Angeles office.

What does all of this mean for BitTorrent, the company? Schreder and Delamar didn’t really want to say during a brief interview with Variety this week, with Delamar only hinting at “big news to come” later this year.

What’s certain is that BitTorrent wants to focus more of its energies on Bundle, its P2P-aided distribution and self-publishing platform that allows artists to release movies, music and other creative works the massive audience of BitTorrent’s file sharing software. “We see a lot of value in this audience,” Straith said.

BitTorrent has signed up some 30,000 artists for its publishing platform since its launch in 2013. Some more notable collaborations include the digital release of “Hits” from David Cross, as well as partnerships with BBC Worldwide and IFC Films.

BitTorrent now wants to add an option for ad-supported streaming to its Bundle platform. The company also plans to launch a multi-channel live streaming app based on BitTorrent Live, the peer-to-peer based technology that BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen has been working on for a number of years now. The company recently tested this technology with some live coverage of the primaries, and Delamar said that it will have more to announce in the coming months.

For BitTorrent, this move towards content distribution is in many ways a bit of a deja vu. The company tried to launch its own movie download store with titles from major studios to compete with the likes of iTunes back in 2007. But just a year later, BitTorrent shuttered the effort due to a lack of interest from consumers.

With Bundle, BitTorrent is now more closely competing with VHX, Vimeo VOD and other self-distribution platforms. At the same time, BitTorrent has been busy developing a number of peer-to-peer technology-based products that don’t have anything to do with entertainment at all, including a file synchronization tool, a secure messaging client and a web browser. Asked about the future of those efforts, Delamar quipped: “Stay tuned!”

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