Pocket.watch Hires Xavier Kochhar, Former AT&T and HBO Max Exec, as First COO and CFO (EXCLUSIVE)

Xavier Kochhar - Pocketwatch
Courtesy of Pocket.watch

Pocket.watch, the kids and family media company centered on creating franchises around YouTube stars, hired seasoned industry exec Xavier Kochhar as its first COO and CFO.

Kochhar, who starts at Pocket.watch on Thursday, most recently was at AT&T in a corporate strategy and development role and prior to that headed strategy and biz dev for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max. His experience in direct-to-consumer streaming signals that Pocket.watch is eyeing the launch of a subscription VOD service, while Kochhar’s finance background suggests the company is prepping for M&A activity or a potential IPO.

“Xavier’s vast experience in corporate strategy and development, operations and finance in companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100s is precisely what Pocket.watch needs as we consider all the opportunities in our next phase of growth,” founder and CEO Chris M. Williams said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth the last several years, but the biggest growth is still ahead of us.”

Williams had been trying to recruit Kochhar for about a year but “he thought I was joking,” the CEO said with a laugh, before their hiring talks intensified in the last few months. “Xavier is a real get for us,” Williams added.

Asked whether Pocket.watch was contemplating raising new capital or launching an IPO, Williams responded, “We receive a lot of in-bound interest all the time. Having Xavier on board with his breadth of experience and intelligence really allows us to consider anything that comes our way… Ultimately, we will have to create liquidity for investors, but we’re in no rush to do that.”

As Pocket.watch’s COO and CFO, Kochhar will oversee major business units, including direct-to-consumer, content sales and distribution, advertising, consumer products, gaming and creator partnerships. He also will lead the corporate development, strategy and finance divisions of the company. Previously, according to Williams, those duties were handled by himself and other members of the senior management.

The company is best known for teaming with Ryan’s World and Love, Diana — two of the biggest kids’ channels on YouTube — to develop original content, expand global distribution of their premium and library content, and launch merchandise and other brand extensions. Earlier this year, Pocket.watch inked a deal to distribute content from YouTube comedy duo LankyBox, whose family-friendly gameplay videos, parodies and shorts have generated more than 10.4 billion lifetime views. Other creator partners include the Onyx Family, Kid City, Rosanna Pansino, Jason Vlogs, Karina Garcia, EvanTubeHD and Dangie Bros.

Kochhar, in a statement provided by Pocket.watch, observed that in recent years major vertically integrated media companies have reclaimed much of their content to launch and grow their own direct-to-consumer streaming services. That’s created a massive opportunity for independent content platforms that can deliver young audiences who are drawn to creator-based content, he said.

“Pocket.watch is one of only a few creator-economy companies in kids and family — a category that has shown to not only drive first-time streams, but also greatly reduce churn — to have proven this model,” Kochhar said.

Before joining WarnerMedia, Kochhar was founder and CEO of the Video Genome Project (VGP), which claimed to have built the world’s largest database of video content metadata. Hulu acquired Video Genome Project in 2016 prior to the streamer’s launch of the Hulu + Live TV service and incorporated VGP’s database into its discovery and recommendation engine.

Earlier in his career, Kochhar spent several years as managing director at media and advertising consulting firm MediaLink. Kochhar was also a corporate executive at both the Walt Disney Co. and LEK Consulting under Kevin Mayer, former LEK partner and Disney’s chief strategy officer. Kochhar began his career in the content business as one of the first digital and new media agents at WME, representing both the early digital platforms as well as the first wave of internet-based content creators.

Pocket.watch distributes its original content in more than 80 territories globally, syndicated across 41 platforms. Over the past year, the company says, it has doubled distribution partners to now include Amazon, Hulu, Peacock, Sky, Pluto TV, the Roku Channel, Astro, Discovery Kids, Canela Media and Tubi.

Williams, a former Disney and Maker Studios exec, founded Pocket.watch in 2017. Investors and stakeholders include ViacomCBS, Greycroft, Third Wave Digital and UTA, as well as Robert Downey Jr. (Team Downey) and Jon Landau. In addition, Ryan’s World creator Sunlight Entertainment owns a significant stake in the company.