After eight years heading SiriusXM, CEO Jim Meyer will retire from the satellite radio company at the end of the year. The company has announced Jennifer Witz, currently President of Sales, Marketing and Operations, will become the new chief executive of both SiriusXM and streaming service Pandora.
“It has been a privilege to lead SiriusXM, and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together over the last eight years. This company has never been in a better position,” Meyer said in a statement. “My decision to retire has long been in the works, and now is the right time to begin this transition,” he added.
The company said Meyer will work closely over the coming months with Witz to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.
Witz has been with SiriusXM for more than 18 years. She earlier worked at Viacom and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in addition to the world of investment banking.
“With nearly two decades of success at the company, no one is better suited for this position,” said Greg Maffei, chairman of SiriusXM and CEO of Liberty Media, its majority owner. “Jennifer will lead the company’s strong executive team as it continues building out its platforms and executes on its growth strategies.”
Witz said that she has learned a lot from Meyer through the years and after hitting a record 34.3 million subscribers as of June 30, she sees a lot of potential for the company. “SiriusXM has tremendous opportunities ahead,” she said. “We are rolling out new programming, introducing new technology and expanding our OEM [automotive] relationships, while pursuing new avenues of growth at Pandora and strengthening our position in the podcasting space.”
Meyer has been slow to warm to podcasting, even referring to it as an audio “flea market” and an “evolution” of audio consumption rather than a “revolution.” But during the past year he has steered the company into investing in the ad tech that powers the industry as much as building its content. “We absolutely need to be in that business,” Meyer told investors a year ago.
Those words were backed up as SiriusXM in recent months has struck a $325 million deal to buy Stitcher and struck a $28 million deal to buy Simplecast, the podcast management and analytics platform Simplecast, with plans to pair its content management, audience analytics and audio tools with the monetization platform of Pandora-owned AdsWizz.
“Podcasting is a very important part of our audio bundle,” Meyer said during a July conference call with analysts. “I don’t know what the viability is of podcasting as a standalone business. It takes an awful lot of investment and an awful lot of marketing.”
Following his retirement, Meyer will remain on SiriusXM’s board of directors and will serve as Vice Chairman. Upon assuming the role of CEO, Witz will be appointed as a member of the board. Board member George Bodenheimer also announced today his decision to resign from the board, effective immediately.
New CFO Named
Separately, CFO David Frear, a 17-year company vet, is also exiting SiriusXM to pursue other opportunities. He’ll be succeeded by Sean Sullivan.
Sullivan most recently was CFO at AMC Networks. He earlier worked at Rainbow Media Holdings, the predecessor to AMC, and HiT Entertainment, a children’s media company. “Sean brings two-plus decades of financial and operating experience, strong leadership abilities and an in-depth understanding of the entertainment industry,” said Meyer.