Pluto TV, a start-up aggregating over-the-top video for a free, ad-supported service, has rounded out its senior management team with two recent hires: Mike Drath, who has joined as COO and CFO, and Jeff Shultz, who has been named chief business officer.
In the newly created roles, Shultz (above left) and Drath (above right) report directly to Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV. Both are based in the company’s L.A. headquarters.
“Both Jeff and Mike bring the ideal combination of big media industry experience and start-up expertise,” Ryan said. “As we’ve grown the business it was time to strengthen the management team.”
Pluto TV, founded in 2013, now counts 75 employees (including contractors). Last spring the company said its service attracts more than 6 million monthly unique users; Ryan said its user base is significantly higher than that now, but he declined to provide an updated figure.
Shultz — who has been an adviser to Pluto TV for the last three years — will oversee partnerships and lead strategy, tasked with identifying and executing on key growth initiatives. Most recently, he was SVP of business development for CBS Radio and earlier in his career was director of biz dev for NBC’s internet division. He has also held senior roles at internet startups including Clicker and Concert TV, which he co-founded. Shultz began his career as a lawyer for Linklaters in London after receiving a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Drath previously served as CFO and COO for social-marketing company theAudience, which was acquired in 2015 by Al Ahli Holding Group, a diversified conglomerate based in Dubai. Before that, he held various leadership positions at Disney, including heading the strategy and business development team for Disney Consumer Products. After Disney acquired mobile games publisher Tapulous, Drath moved to head up finance at Disney Mobile Gaming. He also has served in professional services and client advisory roles at Bain & Co., Deloitte, Nielsen’s Cambridge Group and as an independent consultant.
Pluto TV programs more than 100 live channels in a linear-like TV guide, as well as several thousand on-demand movies. For now, the company is focused on scaling up the free, ad-supported service, including investing in more premium content licensing deals. “We still believe as you grow a large audience of free users… that becomes a great funnel to some type of paid offering,” Ryan said.
Investors in the company include USVP, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Scripps Networks Interactive, Sky, UTA, Luminari Capital, Chicago Ventures, and Pritzker Group. Pluto TV has raised more than $51 million in funding to date, including a $5 million investment from Samsung Ventures in 2017. Ryan said the company isn’t currently looking to raise more capital.
Last year, Pluto TV inked more than 50 new content partnerships, including with Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM, CBSN, Gravitas Ventures, Conde Nast, Jukin Media, Impact Wrestling, the Big Sky Conference, RLJ Entertainment, The Asylum, DramaFever, Warner Music Group and Viz Media.