Kilar tells employees he's leaving Hulu in Q1

Jason Kilar says he is leaving Hulu. The company's CEO, long rumored to be going elsewhere but previously cemented in place at the online video streaming service, e-mailed employees and then posted a blog calling the decision "one of the toughest I've ever made."

Kilar said Rich Tom, the company's CTO, will also be leaving the company with "roughly the same departure date" and that the two expect to continue their collaboration on another unnamed project "on the road ahead."

Kilar used the blog to reminisce about Hulu, noting that it grew from "a few hundred thousand in revenue in 2007 to generating almost $700 million in revenue in 2012 alone" as a video service that is "growing unusually fast, adding over 200K new subscribers in the past 7 days alone."

Aside from the note that he would be working with Tom in the future, Kilar left the door open to speculation about where he's going and what he's going to do aside from "working with the Board to ensure there is ample runway to manage the transition" as he collects his things and packs up his office during the first quarter.

"As dates and other items get solidified, I will update the team," he promised.

Although this is the first time Kilar has actually said he would leave the company after more than five years, his departure has been the subject of widespread speculation for some time, partly because of a rocky relationship with Hulu's partner companies and partly because there was a potentially huge payout at the end of the relationship.

In July, Kilar was a key part of a three-page confidential internal memo distributed within Hulu that outlined a "transition plan" with or without the current CEO. At the time it was thought Kilar might cash out some significant chips in September and that the video purveyor was working on contingency plans.

The July memo covered a range of sensitive issues about how two of Hulu's parent companies, News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), would transform the streaming service, according to a story that ran in Variety.

That memo was based on the possibility that Kilar would leave when Hulu owner Providence Equity Partners ended its relationship in September, a move that would allow any Hulu executive with a significant number of vested shares cash out. Kilar's payday would have been in the range of $100 million.

It's unclear whether that money's still in play--or even if Kilar's move is entirely voluntary. What is clear is that the man who started Hulu is on his way out sometime before April.

For more:
- Jason Kilar wrote this blog

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