Has Netflix just poached Activision Blizzard’s CFO?

2 Jan 2019

Image: © JohnMark/Stock.adobe.com

Corporate game of thrones playing out between US digital media giants.

Spencer Neumann, the chief financial officer (CFO) in the process of being dismissed by games publisher Activision Blizzard, is reportedly joining Netflix.

Activision Blizzard said in a recent regulatory filing that it intended to terminate the employment of Neumann, who is currently on paid leave, for “cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures”.

It subsequently emerged that Neumann is to be snapped up by Netflix, which is currently on a massive drive to make more of its own films and boxset series, and thereby reduce its dependency on licensed material. As such, the streaming media giant wants its next CFO to be in Los Angeles at the heart of the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Corporate drama plot line?

The outgoing CFO of Netflix, David Wells, who lives in northern California, revealed plans to step down from his role at Netflix after 14 years with the company. Wells led the expansion of Netflix’s streaming platform across the world, including brokering deals for debt-financed spending on original shows and movies. It is understood that he plans to focus on philanthropy.

Neumann came to Activision Blizzard after a career that saw him play leading roles at Walt Disney. It is unclear what the precise reasons for his dismissal from the company are. He is still under an 18-month term contract with the gaming publishing giant and it may be that the news of his new job didn’t go down very well.

Neumann’s arrival comes at an interesting time for Netflix, which needs to steady its ship, grow subscriber numbers and embrace its future as a provider of original content.

It also comes at a time when convergence between traditional TV and the internet is at full tilt, and gaming is about to embrace streaming in a big way.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years