Padilla plans to strike out on his own, but hasn’t divulged what exactly he will be pursuing in his solo career. Smosh, the top content brand of Defy Media, has generated more than 11 billion YouTube video views to date.
“I’m so sad to see this chapter of my life coming to a close, but I will continue to support Ian and wish nothing but the best for him and the brand we created together,” Padilla said in a statement. “As I begin this adventure, I am excited to return to a feeling that I felt many years ago: a rush of adrenaline following a new and exciting idea.”
Padilla said that striking out on his own “is a passion that I have wanted to explore for a long time.”
“To all those that have followed Ian and I throughout the years, I will always be so grateful for the continued love and support,” he said. “As scary as this is, I am excited because I know that no matter what happens, I am following what’s true to me and what I’m passionate about. I hope to see you all on my journey.”
Hecox praised his friend of 19 years and wished him well — but noted that he’s fully committed to Smosh. “As Anthony moves on to pursue new creative endeavors, myself and everyone at Smosh are excited to see what he does next,” Hecox said, adding, “I’m really looking forward to taking Smosh to the next phase, and we can’t wait for people to see what we have coming up.”
Smosh in 2011 teamed up with Alloy Digital (which merged with Break Media to form Defy). Today, Smosh comprises seven total YouTube channels with over 40 million subscribers, including Smosh Games, which has more than 7 million subscribers.
Padilla and Hecox also have appeared in two feature films, “Smosh: The Movie” released in 2015, and last year’s comedy “Ghostmates,” for YouTube Red subscription service.
Keith Richman, president of Defy Media, said the company has been preparing for Padilla’s departure for several months and has worked to diversify its programming and cast for even longer. Smosh currently encompasses 23 different shows and has a “Saturday Night Live”-style cast of 14 performers.
“I think it’s a seminal moment for digital-born brands,” Richman said. “There’s nobody who has strategically planned for a succession like this in the digital space.”
In March, Defy chief content officer Barry Blumberg announced his exit from the company. Blumberg first connected with Padilla and Hecox shortly after they began posting YouTube videos in 2006, and he oversaw the development of Smosh with them up until he left Defy Media. He plans to continue to work with Defy through a first-look production deal.
Watch Anthony and Ian’s video discussing Padilla’s departure: