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Funimation Founder Gen Fukunaga Moves Into Chairman Role, Sony Seeks New GM for Anime Service (EXCLUSIVE)

Sony Pictures Television-owned Funimation has launched a search for a new general manager, as founder Gen Fukunaga is stepping out of day-to-day management at the anime network/distributor into a chairman role.

The move comes 18 months Sony Pictures Television Networks acquired a 95% majority stake in Funimation for about $143 million, with Fukunaga retaining a minority stake.

As chairman, Fukunaga — who founded Funimation in 1994 after a career in IT and consulting — said in an internal memo Friday that he will continue to oversee the business and will focus on relations with content partners.

“This change has been on the horizon since Sony took a majority interest in the company in 2017,” Fukunaga wrote. “And now is the right time to begin the transition, when Funimation is truly hitting its stride.”

According to Fukunaga, Funimation has a $130 million revenue run rate. It currently offers the FunimationNow subscription-streaming service in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, priced at $5.99 per month (or $59.99 for a one-year subscription), and plans to expand into more countries.

He also called out the success of Funimation Films’ “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” which has notched $28.9 million at the North American box office since its Jan. 19 premiere.

Late last year, Funimation reached an exclusive first-look pact with Hulu, under which Hulu will distribute new titles licensed and produced by Funimation starting in 2019.

Funimation’s main rival is Crunchryoll, the anime-streaming service owned by AT&T’s Otter Media. Funimation ended its cross-licensing deal with rival Crunchyroll last fall to be able to offer both subtitled and dubbed anime. Under their now-expired deal, Crunchyroll had offered subtitled versions and Funimation provided dubbed versions of the same shows.

Funimation’s catalog includes more than 600 shows, providing more than 10,000 hours of subbed and dubbed programming.

Read Fukunaga’s memo:

Funimation Team,

As I announced at our All Hands today, I will be stepping into the position of Chairman of the Board at Funimation and transitioning my GM role within the next six months. We’ve initiated the search for a new GM, and once we have selected the new leader, I’ll work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition.

In the Chairman role, I will continue to have oversight of the business and will focus on managing relationships with our content partners – making sure we continue to have the right partnerships in place. I will also provide advisory services to the team, as needed.

This change has been on the horizon since Sony took a majority interest in the company in 2017. And now is the right time to begin the transition, when Funimation is truly hitting its stride. We’ve grown into a $130M+ business with a robust offering available in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, with plans to expand to more territories. FunimationNow is adding revenue streams and deepening our fan base, as well as exploring opportunities in original production. And, we’re seeing a major win with the exceptional box office performance of our feature film Dragon Ball Super: Broly. That said, we’re in great shape to continue building on our solid foundation and momentum.

As we work through this transition, I want to thank you for maintaining your focus in bringing extraordinary entertainment to our anime fans everywhere. I started Funimation with a vision to make anime as accessible as possible to fans across the world. Because of your passion, dedication and hard work, I believe the company is better equipped than ever to deliver on that vision, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built together. I am grateful to all of you and look forward to our next chapter together.

Gen

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