UPDATED: Mitu, a digital-media company focused on U.S. Hispanic audiences, has laid off a sizable portion of its employees, while recently hired CEO Herb Scannell and president/co-founder Beatriz Acevedo have stepped down from their roles.
Scannell, a TV industry veteran who once ran Nickelodeon and BBC Worldwide North America, joined Mitu in the fall of 2017. Acevedo has been a manager at the company since its inception in 2012. Both will remain affiliated with Mitu in advisory roles and Acevedo remains on Mitu’s board, according to a company rep. The changes at Mitu were previously reported by The Wrap.
Mitu has not named an interim CEO. For now, the company will be run a senior management operating committee led by CFO Ray Leon, according to a company rep.
While Scannell came on board with a vision of growing Mitu’s business into bigger-budget TV and movie projects and events, the company was simply been unable to raise the additional funds it needed to execute on a more aggressive growth strategy. When Scannell was hired, co-founder Roy Burstin — who had previously served as CEO — resigned.
“In some market conditions investors favor growth and are willing to fund continued investments,” Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures — Mitu’s largest shareholder — wrote in an email to Variety. “That is no longer the case in digital media, where investors are pushing for profitability over growth.”
Suster denied a report by VideoInk that the company let go more than 50% of its staff, suggesting it was closer to a 30% reduction.
“We still have nearly 70 employees and tens of millions in revenue… We have a strong, functioning executive team with many members who have been with us nearly five years,” Suster wrote. Mitu recently said it had about 100 employees. The company is based in Santa Monica, Calif., with offices in New York, Chicago, and Bogotá, Colombia.
Suster added, “Any time you make cuts it’s painful. These are good people and we’re working hard to help [affected employees] find new and interesting jobs.”
The main focus of the job cuts of is to focus on the core businesses of digital media and e-commerce. “We are less focus on developing new long-form content,” which is where the majority of the layoffs occurred, Suster wrote.
To date, Mitu has raised $42 million from investors including Upfront Ventures, Comcast, WPP, Verizon Ventures, AMC Networks, Chernin Group and AwesomenessTV.
Regarding Scannell’s resignation, Suster commented, “Herb came to Mitu to develop [intellectual property], and given we are less focused on that he decided he wanted to focus his efforts elsewhere.”
Acevedo “represents the heart and soul of the Mitu brand,” according to Suster. In her new role, Acevedo wants to free up her time to focus on mentoring women and, more broadly, “supporting Latinx social issues more broadly in these troubling times for immigrants.”
“Her cause is our cause, but she’s elected to have her full-time role be outside the company,” Suster wrote.
Mitu’s core business is focused on English-language original digital video for Latino viewers, distributed across YouTube and social networks. The company has pacts to distribute content on Snapchat Discover and Facebook’s Watch and also sold a comedy special to Netflix, “Chingo Bling: They Can’t Deport Us All.”
Pictured above: Herb Scannell (left), Beatriz Acevedo