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Key YouTube executive who built Hollywood partnerships resigns

YouTube executive Kelly Merryman is photographed at her home in Manhattan Beach.
YouTube executive Kelly Merryman is photographed at her home in Manhattan Beach.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Kelly Merryman, YouTube’s vice president of content partnerships, has resigned, the company confirmed on Wednesday.

Merryman, who joined YouTube in 2015, oversaw a team of more than 300 people in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, including staffers who work with hundreds of content partners.

She was seen as a key player in fostering relationships with major TV networks and studios in the aftermath of Viacom settling a $1-billion lawsuit accusing YouTube of copyright infringement.

“Kelly is a wonderful leader and helped grow YouTube into what it is today. She contributed tremendously to growing YouTube’s impact on the creative economy,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, said in a statement.

It’s unclear what triggered Merryman’s exit and what she plans to do next. Merryman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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YouTube executive Kelly Merryman has been instrumental in improving content partnerships with large media companies like Disney and Viacom.

Merryman has a track record of being a successful entertainment executive. She joined YouTube from Netflix, where she was vice president of acquisition. At the streamer, Merryman saw an invaluable opportunity for Netflix to expand globally.

When she told her boss, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, that she planned to focus on international growth full time, he supported the idea but warned her that she would lose her job if it didn’t work out, Merryman recalled. Her instincts proved prescient.

YouTube has seen a surge of traffic during the pandemic, as people looked for ways to entertain themselves while they sheltered at home.

Many celebrities also used YouTube to livestream or upload videos as Hollywood productions and live events shut down because of COVID-19 concerns. Audiences turned to YouTube, and so did brands. The Google-owned video sharing platform saw its advertising revenue soar 84% in the second quarter to $7 billion.

Despite YouTube’s financial success, the company has experienced some executive departures during the pandemic. In May, Cécile Frot-Coutaz, YouTube’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, left to become CEO of London-based Sky Studios. Last year, Ariel Bardin, YouTube’s vice president of product management, left to join Instacart.


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