Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, has been tapped to lead a new digital media startup founded by former Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg after she steps down from HPE on February 1.
Based in Los Angeles, the tentatively named NewTV is described as "a mobile-first media platform" that will bring "Hollywood-style productions to mobile, in bite-sized formats of 10 minutes or less." The startup was incubated by Katzenberg's holding company, WndrCo.
Speaking to Variety, Whitman said she has looked over thousands of startups but found Katzenberg's NewTV idea particularly compelling. It also appears that Whitman was enticed by the excitement of an early-stage startup.
"In some ways this is a return to my start-up roots," Whitman said. "I took eBay from $4 million and 30 employees to $8 billion in revenues and 18,000 employees."
Whitman announced in November that she would step down from HPE early this year. She became CEO of HP in September 2011 and stabilized the company after the short tenure of Leo Apotheker. Whitman also oversaw numerous restructurings, invested in research and development and led the split of HP into Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP.
HPE focused on the enterprise with servers, networking, security and data center assets and pivoted to the Internet of things. HP was reinvigorated after the breakup and upped its design focus for its PC business, stabilized the printing unit and developed a 3D printing business.
Whitman was rumored to be on the shortlist for Uber's CEO job before the ride-hailing company hired Dara Khosrowshahi from Expedia. The Uber position would have made a bit more sense considering Whitman's gravitas and experience as an executive that's built companies and knows how to scale.
But the fact that she opted for NewTV and not a more established, global brand suggests that Whitman is hungry for a shot at disruption, and also a change of scenery.
"Meg is one of the most accomplished and sought-after executives of our time. She has built and scaled some of the most important global companies today," Katzenberg said in a statement. "To say I am thrilled that Meg will be at the helm would be an understatement. Her leadership, operational expertise, and deep understanding of technology and consumer behavior will be invaluable in creating the future of mobile entertainment."