Apple’s Hire of a Disney+ Video Executive Highlights Talent Rivalry
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. has hired a former executive from Walt Disney Co.’s startup streaming service to beef up management of the global video service it will launch later this year, a sign of the growing competition for talent between tech and media.
Chiara Cipriani started with Apple as a director of video services earlier this month in London, according to her LinkedIn bio, after about a decade at Disney. She previously was an executive working on the new Disney+ service and had managed DisneyLife, its international predecessor. Disney declined to comment. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The decision to hire a Disney executive in a competing job is particularly interesting because Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive officer, sits on Apple’s board. Up to now, he’s maintained that the iPhone maker’s video business is too small to relinquish that role and has recused himself from some matters.
But competition for entertainment executives is growing as technology companies such as Apple and Amazon.com Inc. develop films and TV shows of their own and compete with traditional media companies for viewers in the age in streaming. Disney, AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal all have new streaming services in the works. In March, Disney+ hired a Netflix Inc. executive to lead business affairs.
Netflix, the pioneer in streaming, is the farthest along, with the most subscribers, and has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to secure exclusive rights to producers like Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes. It has also paid high salaries to attract staff from traditional media companies.
That’s led to litigation in at least one instance. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. sued Netflix for poaching in 2016. The case is still winding its way through the courts and could go to trial in January.
Apple’s hiring suggests that the company is building up the international operations for its Apple TV+ streaming service. The company has hired a number of creative executives from British broadcasters, as well as talent from Amazon and Netflix.
Rather than sparking talent wars or more litigation, the expansion of streaming services could provide a soft landing for entertainment industry employees who have lost their jobs to mergers. Disney’s purchase of film and TV assets from 21st Century Fox Inc. this year was expected to lead to thousands of job cuts, bolstering the pool of potential applicants.
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