Netflix has officially confirmed the hiring of its new Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann, formerly CFO at Activision Blizzard. The announcement directly follows reports from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal, which said Netflix had poached Neumann from Activision and would start him in his new position this year.
CNBC reported Neumann had been fired from Activision two days ago because he was pursuing another job. Activision declined to state the cause of his firing, saying only that it was “unrelated to the Company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures,” in a regulatory filing.
Activision said Dennis Durkin, who was CFO from 2012 through 2017, would return to his role to replace Neumann.
At Netflix, Neumann will replace David Wells, who served as CFO since 2010.
“Spencer is a stellar entertainment executive and we’re thrilled that he will help us provide amazing stories to people all over the world,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix chief executive officer, in a statement. “I also want to again say thank you to David Wells, on behalf of the company and our shareholders, for his invaluable contributions at Netflix over the past 14 years.”
Neumann became CFO at Activision Blizzard in May 2017. Prior to that, he held a number of roles within Disney and elsewhere. From 2012 up until his hiring at Activision, Neumann was CFO and executive vice president of Global Guest Experience of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He also worked in private equity at Providence Equity Partners and Summit Partners.
Also at Disney, which Neumann first joined in 1992, he had served as executive vice president of the ABC Television Network from 2001 to 2004 and CFO of the Walt Disney Internet Group from 1999 to 2001.
His hiring is notable, given Disney’s plans to introduce a Netflix competitor of its own this year, with the forthcoming launch of the Disney+ streaming service. Netflix is also facing increased competition from AT&T, which is creating several new streaming services following its Time Warner acquisition, as well from Hulu, which becomes majority-owned by Disney with its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
To keep up, Netflix has been increasing its spending on content. It reportedly spent USD 8 billion in 2018, and that figure is set to grow this year as the streamer invests heavily in originals to help grow and retain its customer base.
“Netflix is a singular brand, and I’m excited and honored for the opportunity to work with the Netflix team and all of our stakeholders to build on the company’s exceptional track record of success and innovation,” said Neumann in a statement.— Tech Crunch