Verizon hires former YouTube exec for Go90

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) hired a former YouTube executive to oversee content for Go90, its OTT mobile video offering targeted at millennials.

Recode reported that the nation's largest mobile network operator named Ivana Kirkbride chief content officer for Go90. Kirkbride joined YouTube in 2011 to help launch the company's first original channels before moving to other roles including overseeing investment strategy and then heading its unscripted original series in 2014.

Interestingly, Kirkbride was involved with Awesomeness TV, a digital video company owned by DreamWorks Animation in which Verizon acquired a 24.5 percent stake earlier this year. More recently, Kirkbride was vice president and head of content at the startup Vessel.

The hiring underscores Verizon's eagerness to build a digital media empire as growth in the traditional mobile market slows in the U.S. Verizon acquired AOL last year for $4.4 billion in a deal that included properties such as EngadgetThe Huffington Post and TechCrunch. The operator has continued to invest heavily to buy its way into the space in recent months, and it is among a handful of companies vying to acquire Yahoo's online assets.

But Verizon faces stiff competition in a mobile video market dominated by YouTube and Netflix. Go90 is gradually gaining traction but faces "an uphill battle" against other mobile video and social networking apps and services, UBS analysts said last month.

U.S. carriers have long failed to monetize content -- particularly mobile video -- directly, but that hasn't stopped some of them from pursuing the medium aggressively. T-Mobile seems to have found success with Binge On, a zero-rated offering that doesn't generate revenue directly but rather is aimed at luring new customers and keeping them with the carrier, as well as reducing the load on T-Mobile's network.

Whether Verizon can actually build a viable digital media business is still far from clear, however.

For more:
- see this Recode report

Related articles:
UBS: Verizon's Go90 faces 'an uphill battle' against other mobile video and social apps
Verizon's McAdam on Go90: 'It did get a little bit overhyped'
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