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Kun Gao Steps Down as Crunchyroll GM, Continues to Serve as Adviser

posted on by Karen Ressler
Former Viki CEO Joanne Waage takes over

Crunchyroll co-founder Kun Gao has stepped down from the position of General Manager at Crunchyroll. Joanne Waage, former CEO of Viki, has taken over the role as of September 2018.

Gao will continue to serve as an adviser at Crunchyroll, and as a board member at Crunchyroll K.K., the company's Japanese branch. He will continue to work on several ongoing projects.

Crunchyroll did not comment on whether it foresees changes as a result of the transition. Gao commented that he thinks Crunchyroll has a "bright future," and that he has confidence in Waage and the rest of the team. Waage commented, "We have big plans to create more 360-degree experiences for fans via content, games, merchandise, events, and more."

Waage took over the role of CEO of Rakuten's subsidiary streaming platform Viki in March 2017 after serving as Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Programming.

Crunchyroll launched in 2007 as a streaming service offering anime titles without authorization, but in 2008 it secured US$4.05 million in its first-round funding from Venrock and began licensing titles for streaming. The Chernin Group acquired a majority stake in Crunchyroll in December 2013. The Chernin Group and AT&T formed the joint venture Otter Media in 2014, and Otter Media invested another US$22 million in Crunchyroll's parent company Ellation in November 2015. AT&T then announced in August that it has acquired all of Otter Media.

As of October, Crunchyroll has more than 2 million paid subscribers.

Source: Email correspondence, Joanne Waage's LinkedIn

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