Netflix Is Said to Nab Activision CFO in New Year’s Eve Switch

(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. is expected to announce it has hired Spencer Neumann as its chief financial officer, according to a person familiar with the matter, after Activision Blizzard Inc. said earlier in the day that it planned to fire him.

Netflix Is Said to Nab Activision CFO in New Year’s Eve Switch

Neumann will start at Netflix in early 2019, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. He would replace David Wells, who said in August that he planned to step down.

Netflix didn’t immediately respond to calls outside office hours seeking a comment.

The surprise development -- coming on New Year’s Eve -- came after Activision said in a regulatory filing Monday that it intended to fire Neumann as CFO for an unspecified reason. Activision, a video-game publisher, said it planned to end Neumann’s employment for cause unrelated to the company’s financial performance and has placed him on paid leave.

Neumann came to Activision from Walt Disney Co. and has been finance chief since May 2017. In the last fiscal year, he had total compensation of $9.47 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, including $2.8 million in options awards and $4.15 million in stock awards.

It’s unclear why Activision would fire him. But in at least a dozen U.S. departures this year, companies directly accused senior executives of misconduct unrelated to financial performance.

Hollywood Focus

For Netflix, the move would bring an executive based in Hollywood -- giving the streaming giant more experience in the movie-making capital. The Silicon Valley company’s center of gravity has been shifting south as it pumps about $8 billion a year into programming.

The focus on Hollywood was evident in Netflix’s pay increases, announced last week. The company gave Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos a 50 percent increase in salary for 2019, vaulting him into the ranks of Hollywood’s best-paid media moguls. He’s now set to collect $18 million in base compensation.

Netflix shares have risen nearly 40 percent this year, compared with a 1 percent drop for the S&P 500 movies and entertainment index. The Los Gatos, California-based company had 137.1 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter and expects to add a record 28.9 million customers for the full year.

Reuters previously reported on Netflix hiring Neumann.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.