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Social-Streaming Startup Scener Taps Hulu Veteran David Baron as CEO, Snags J.J. Abrams as Investor

Scener-David-Baron-JJ-Abrams
Courtesy of Scener; Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Scener, the three-year-old co-viewing streaming video platform incubated by RealNetworks, is hoping to kick its business into higher gear with a new CEO and the backing of a slate of new investors and advisers, including filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

The company announced the hiring of David Baron, a nearly 14-year veteran of Hulu, as its new CEO. Daniel Strickland, Scener’s founder and original CEO and chief technology officer, will continue in his role as CTO of the company going forward.

In addition to Abrams, Scener announced Sean Rad (Tinder founder and investor) and Marc Geiger (founder of SaveLive, cofounder of Lollapalooza, and former head of music for WME) as investors and advisers, while tech investor and entrepreneur Richard Wolpert has joined Scener as executive chairman.

“Of course, watching films and series while alone can be wonderful. But there is nothing more fun, memorable or moving than the communal viewing experience,” Abrams said in a statement. “Scener allows viewers to connect on a deeper level with the stories they’re watching, with each other, and with the storytellers and creators they care about. I very much look forward to hosting a Scener watch party soon!”

According to Scener, this year its platform has delivered more than 1 billion minutes of synchronized social viewing across more than 7 million individual events. Scener’s free Google Chrome extension supports more than 10 streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Prime Video, HBO Max and YouTube. Earlier this year, in partnership with HBO Max, Scener hosted a fan-screening event for “Zach Snyder’s Justice League,” which drew a real-time audience of 30,000 viewers.

Baron exited Hulu in May 2021, where he most recently was VP, head of content business operations and digital supply chain. Prior to Hulu, he worked at Fox Digital Media, Paramount Digital Entertainment and Microsoft.

“Scener has solved the puzzle of the social viewing experience for streaming services and is uniquely positioned for even more growth ahead,” Baron said in a statement “Consumers are now demanding both simplicity and social connection in their viewing experiences.”

Previous investors in Scener include Seattle-based SeaChange Fund, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser’s Glaser Investments, Jason Calacanis’ Launch Accelerator, RiffTrax (from the creators of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) and angel investors including RiffTrax CEO David G. Martin and tech executive Sriram Krishnan (formerly with Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft).