Former Google Exec Named CEO of YouTube MCN Omnia Media (Exclusive)
Brown, the former head of YouTube Canada for Google, replaces Omnia Media founder Tamoor Shafi, who left a year ago to join Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media. Shafi launched Omnia to work with online video creators and brands in 2013, and steered the company for three years as CEO before becoming chief digital officer at Relativity Digital Studios in January 2016.
Before that, in mid-2014, Canadian indie broadcaster Blue Ant Media took a minority stake in Omnia Media. The deal allowed the Toronto-based parent to grow its digital and production business by combining its multiplatform assets with Omnia's roster of YouTube content creators.
Earlier this year, Blue Ant bought out the remaining stake in Omnia that it did not already own. And the search for Shafi's replacement soon turned to Brown, who after leaving Google in 2015 led corporate development at Victorious, a Santa Monica-based digital start-up helping social media stars launch stand-alone apps.
Brown joined Omnia around MIPCOM as CEO, with an eye to expanding the digital network's focus to include original content creation for gaming and DIY brands like Makeful. "There's a shared appreciation with Blue Ant for creating original content, owning IP and programming to really enthusiastic communities as the three fundamental pillars of how we want to now distribute content," Brown told the Hollywood Reporter.
Brown has bolstered Omnia's executive team by adding Dan Lubetkin as chief content officer. His TV credits include Comedy Central’s Workaholics and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
The goal is developing and producing original content with Omnia's existing and expanding talent network. "We're not out to change or diminish their authentic brand, but to elevate and give talent new opportunities with additional packaging or content," Lubetkin explained.
Omnia is working with YouTube comedy star Beez, formerly known as Bugatti Beez, on a docuseries about his attempt to become a hit rapper and hip-hop artist. Beez already has 1.15 million subscribers on YouTube.
Omnia is also working with another social media star, Lilypichu, a League of Legends gamer with 750,000 YouTube subscribers, to develop a kids animated series. Blue Ant's YouTube MCN has also hired Greg Kampanis, most recently with Izo (formerly DanceOn), as senior vp, operations, and Mike Waghalter, former head of business development at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, as its new senior vp, business development.