Joost Gets New CEO, Sets New Direction

Joost, a service that features ad-supported movies and other video content, has shifted gears — and its CEO. The company will now focus on selling its online video platform to cable, satellite, broadcast, and other media companies as a white-label service.

In setting the new direction, Matt Zelesko, Joost’s SVP of engineering, was promoted to CEO. Mike Volpi, chief executive since June 2007, has stepped down, but remains as board chairman. “In these tough economic times, it’s been increasingly challenging to operate as an independent, ad-supported online video platform. In order to position ourselves well for the future, we began investigating additional lines of revenue for Joost,” Volpi said in a post on the Joost blog.

Joost will apparently continue to offer ad-supported online video programming. A spot-check of the site’s program showed that, for instance, Samsung is an advertiser on the site.

But yesterday’s changes are a sign the company is being marginalized by Hulu.com, an ad-supported online video site launched in 2007 by News Corp. and NBC Universal. Just two months ago, Disney/ABC bought a stake in Hulu, bringing even more content to the site.

Joost also faces intense competition in its quest to attract an audience. Google, including YouTube, had 40 percent of audience market share in April, according to comScore’s VideoMetrix service.

Zelesko, the new CEO, will continue to oversee engineering, while Stacey Seltzer, vice president, international business development, will run business operations. Volpi will remain board chairman.

Joost will lay off 70 of its 90-person staff, according to an AdAge.com report. Kelly Vance, Joost spokeswoman, said the company is not commenting on the layoffs.

In early 2007, Joost started with great promise, signing on big brand advertisers, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Visa. Its content includes an assortment of classic films featuring Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, and Elizabeth Taylor, movie videos, and other content.

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