Ex-HBO Boss Richard Plepler Invests in Luminary, Joins Podcast Company’s Board

Richard Plepler
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Richard Plepler has hopped on the podcast train. The former HBO chief executive has invested in Luminary Media, a podcast-subscription service, and taken a seat on its board.

Plepler acquired a minority stake in Luminary, according to sources, although they could not confirm the amount of the investment. The New York-based company has raised over $100 million to date from backers including New Enterprise Associates and Sinai Ventures.

Plepler exited as chairman and CEO of HBO in February 2019 after a 28-year run with the premium programmer. Earlier this month, he announced the formation of Eden Productions, a film and TV production company that inked a five-year exclusive deal with Apple TV Plus.

Luminary’s model is similar to HBO: Luminary charges $4.99 per month for U.S. subscribers to access dozens of original shows without any advertising. The company has original shows from Trevor Noah, Lena Dunham, Leon Neyfakh, Russell Brand, Michael Rapaport and others, with new originals coming from partners including Soledad O’Brien, Alex Gibney, Franklin Leonard and Evan Narcisse.

And at Luminary, Plepler found a familiar face — the company last fall hired former HBO president Simon Sutton as CEO.

“Podcasting has become such an exciting and dynamic medium for great storytelling,” Plepler said in a statement. “Luminary’s vision as a jewel box of premium podcast content where creators are enabled to do their best work and subscribers can consistently discover quality will make it easier for consumers to navigate an incredibly crowded space.”

Sutton, commenting on Plepler’s joining the Luminary board, said, “I’ve seen firsthand Richard’s invaluable impact on a premium content business, and we welcome his strategic partnership as we endeavor to support creators, curate content for listeners, and drive Luminary’s business forward.”

The company said it plans to name additional board members soon. In addition to the subscription service, Luminary offers a free podcast app that offers access to thousands of ad-supported podcasts. The company was founded in 2018 by Matt Sacks, formerly a principal with venture-capital firm NEA (which is a Luminary investor).