Jaunt VR, a company at the forefront of cinematic virtual reality, brought on George Kliavkoff as the new Chief Executive Officer.
Kliavkoff brings a wealth of media experience with him, most recently serving as the co-president of Entertainment & Syndication with Hearst Corporation where he was responsible for cable network partnerships, television programming, merchandise licensing, digital video networks, and comic strip newspaper syndication. Hearst has high profile brand partnerships with ESPN, A&E, Complex, Cosmopolitan Television, and more.
“When you’re very early in a new video technology platform, it’s sometimes important to do lots of things. You got to cover a lot of bases. What that’s afforded Jaunt is kind of an early lead creating an end-to-end solution for video VR, for cinematic VR,” said Kliavkoff in an interview with Upload. “They were trying to develop the end-to-end platform, and I think there’s great value in doing that. I think going forward what that allows you to do is be in a position to partner with other companies that want to create great storytelling experiences through cinematic VR, and to also do that yourself.”
The interim CEO Arthur van Hoff, a Jaunt co-founder, searched for about three months with a search firm to pick Kliavkoff after Jens Christensen stepped down in May. Hoff will resume his role as Chief Technology Officer going forward and had this to say about Kliavkoff:
“George’s strategic vision and expertise scaling innovative global media companies are exactly the right combination to take Jaunt to the next level,” said van Hoff, in a prepared statement. “His proven track record for introducing forward-thinking video technology platforms to mainstream audiences makes him an exceptional fit for us. The board and I are thrilled that he is joining the company.”
Prior to his work with Hearst Corporation, Kliavkoff worked with MLB Advanced Media, ScoreBig Inc, and, perhaps most relevant to his new position with Jaunt, NBC Universal. As NBC Universal’s Chief Digital Officer, Kliavkoff was among the team responsible for the birth of Hulu, was the program’s first leader, and served on the board. Kliavkoff utilized a skill set sharpened by his work with MLB’s online and subscription business and business development to expand NBC’s digital media presence with new business models and by tapping new markets for the company.
Founded in 2013, Jaunt has made a name for itself by providing hardware, software, tools, and applications to enable cinematic VR. They collaborate with filmmakers, artists, and brands to bring their visions to life and make them accessible across all platforms via Jaunt Publishing. The acquisition of a talent such as George Kliavkoff is another step forward in aggressive growth, following up recent global moves such as the launch of Jaunt China and the opening of new offices in Amsterdam and London.
Jaunt has around 100 employees worldwide and is heading up against Facebook and YouTube to produce, host and deliver compelling content you can view in VR.
“The fact that both Facebook and Google are invested in this market and are tracking us so closely is, on the one hand a little bit scary, because they are big competitors. On the other hand it sort of validates the opportunity,” van Hoff told Upload. “We don’t strictly see them as competitors, but as other players in the market…look at video streaming in general, there are many successful billion dollar companies in that market despite YouTube. There’s Hulu, there’s Twitch, there’s Netflix…I think the same thing is true here. There’s a market that’s big enough, that’s growing fast enough that multiple players can be successful.”
Upload editor Ian Hamilton contributed to this report.