Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Sony chief Lynton leaving for chairman role at Snap

Reuters, LOS ANGELES

Sony Entertainment chief executive officer Michael Lynton is to step down to become chairman of the board of messaging app owner Snap Inc, a move that puts an experienced Hollywood executive in a prominent role as the technology company prepares for an initial public offering.

Lynton is to give up his position at Sony Corp’s movie and television unit on Feb. 2, but remain as co-chief executive officer for six months to help find a successor, Sony said in a statement on Friday.

Snap, owner of the popular Snapchat app, is expected to go public early this year, vying for a US$25 billion valuation. Lynton was an early investor in the company cofounded by 26-year-old chief executive officer Evan Spiegel and has served on its board for nearly four years.

The Venice, California-based company has made a push into news and entertainment content, a strategy that heightened competition with social networks such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc. In 2015, it began sharing video and articles from TV networks such as CNN and ESPN on a feature called Snapchat Discover.

It also signed deals last year with media companies such as Walt Disney Co and Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal to have them produce original shows for Snapchat.

Lynton, in a 13-year career at Sony, oversaw hit movies including the The Social Network and James Bond film Skyfall, but the studio has lagged behind competitors in box office share and big hits over the past year.

The TV studio under Lynton also produced successful shows such as Breaking Bad and The Blacklist.

Lynton’s tenure at Sony Entertainment was also marked by a devastating computer hack in 2014 that exposed a trove of embarrassing e-mails and employee data. The cyberattack, which the US blamed on North Korea, crippled the studio for months and prompted an executive shuffle.

Sony chief executive officer Kazuo Hirai is to take on a larger role at the entertainment division, adding the position of co-chief executive officer and chairman of the unit, the company said.

The Tokyo-based Hirai is to add a second office in Culver City, California, where the film studio is based.

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