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Top CAA executive Steve Hasker to leave agency after less than two years

CAA
CAA’s headquarters in Century City.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Steve Hasker, a top executive at Creative Artists Agency, is leaving the storied Hollywood talent firm after a tenure of less than two years, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.

Hasker was named chief executive of CAA Global, then a newly formed group within the company, in November 2017, a move orchestrated by CAA’s majority shareholder, the Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based private equity giant TPG Capital. He started in January 2018.

As head of CAA Global, Hasker was tasked with overseeing and growing units including joint venture CAA China, boutique investment bank Evolution Media Capital and investment and innovation arms CAA Ventures and CAA Labs. He was also given responsibility for overseeing the company’s strategic planning, acquisitions, investment activities and data strategy.

The units Hasker oversaw mostly exist outside the company’s traditional talent representation business. CAA, which represents A-listers including Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise and Natalie Portman, is led by its president, Richard Lovett, along with talent agency veterans including Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane.

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Hasker came to CAA as a seasoned media business executive, but was considered an outsider in the close-knit world of talent agencies. Before arriving at CAA, Hasker served as president and chief operating officer of Nielsen Holdings.

The leadership structure created conflict between Hasker and longtime CAA insiders, including managing directors Lourd and Huvane, said one person familiar with the matter.

In a Wednesday statement, TPG confirmed that Hasker is exiting effective immediately and will become a senior advisor to TPG. There, he will work with the company’s Internet, Digital Media and Communications group.

“Since joining CAA, Steve has helped create the foundation for the next phase of growth at the agency,” said Jim Coulter, co-founder and co-CEO of TPG. “Steve’s leadership of key initiatives ... was important in advancing CAA’s long-term strategy.”

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Before joining Nielsen in 2009, Hasker served as partner at McKinsey & Company’s global media, entertainment and information practice, focusing on television, film, sports, data and digital advertising. He previously served in a multiple financial jobs in the U.S., Russia and Australia.

TPG Capital, formerly known as Texas Pacific Group, became the majority shareholder of CAA in 2014. The company previously acquired a 35% stake in CAA in 2010, before bumping up its investment to approximately 53%. The earlier investment spurred growth in CAA’s sports arm, which formed in 2006. TPG is also known for its investments in Uber, Airbnb, Spotify and Burbank-based studio STX Entertainment.

CAA is the second-largest talent agency, trailing Beverly Hills-based William Morris Endeavor. WME owner Endeavor, led by Ari Emanuel, is preparing for an initial public offering partly to pay down debt incurred in order to make acquisitions including mixed martial arts league UFC and sports-focused agency IMG.

Hasker’s exit comes at a pivotal time for Century City-based CAA and rival agencies, who are in the midst of a tense standoff with the Writers Guild of America. The WGA this year instructed its members to fire their agents due to a dispute over packaging fees the agencies take in exchange for setting up shows. The writers reps have also taken issue with the growing direct role agencies are taking in production, which the WGA says creates a conflict of interest.

The disagreement has resulted in multiple lawsuits. CAA recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the WGA, alleging that the guild had violated the law by organizing a group boycott. The guild is facing similar suits from William Morris Endeavor and United Talent Agency. The writers guild had previously sued the four major agencies — WME, CAA, UTA and ICM — saying that the widespread practice of packaging fees violates state and federal laws.


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