Vevo LLC, the largest U.S. music-video site, named former Intel Corp. executive Erik Huggers chief executive officer, bringing in an experienced hand to drive growth.
Huggers, a former BBC executive who led Intel’s effort to create a Web-TV service, will be charged with raising Vevo’s profile with consumers and accelerating innovation, the website said Thursday in a statement. The appointment, reported earlier by Bloomberg News, was announced the day the music site makes its Newfronts presentation to advertisers in New York.
The move brings Vevo and its owners, including Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, an executive with experience developing technology and negotiating with media owners on new ways to sell content to consumers. Online TV is growing rapidly, and Vevo channels from Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Rihanna are among the most-watched on YouTube.
One priority for Huggers is to improve Vevo’s interface, particularly in mobile, said a person with knowledge of the situation, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The site is looking to grow into something more than a channel accessed through other outlets such as YouTube, owned by Google Inc.
Huggers’s mandate may expand to include a plan for investors to get a return through a sale of shares to the public in an IPO, one of the people said. A challenge for Vevo, like other music services, is generating enough sales to pay for the cost of licensing music.
“There is great potential in accelerating innovation to delight audiences with new product features and premium content,” Huggers said in the statement.
Vevo’s owners, which also include Abu Dhabi Media Co. and Google, considered selling the company last year before deciding to hold on. The company said in November it is delivering almost 100 billion streams annually, and that revenue has grown more than 50 percent a year since 2010.
While Intel ultimately sold the OnCue Web-TV business to Verizon Communications Inc., Huggers forged the content agreements it needed, and led efforts to create a Web-based alternative to cable and satellite TV.
Earlier in his career, Huggers headed the British Broadcasting Corp.’s iPlayer initiative, which pioneered putting the U.K. state-run broadcaster’s content online.
He replaces Rio Caraeff, who left Vevo at the end of 2014. Caraeff led Vevo from 2009, the year it started. As more viewing went online, Vevo and other YouTube clips replaced Viacom Inc.’s MTV as the default source of popular music videos for young consumers.
Vevo Chief Financial Officer Alan Price was serving as interim CEO while Vevo’s board looked for a successor.