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WarnerMedia's Jason Kilar Will Depart CEO Role as Merger With Discovery Nears Its Close

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  • WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar will be stepping down from his role as the company's merger with Discovery nears its close.
  • Kilar, the one-time CEO of Hulu, was named the head executive of AT&T's WarnerMedia division in April 2020, a month into the pandemic.
  • The executive is expected to depart on Friday.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar will be stepping down from his role as the company's merger with Discovery nears its close.

Kilar made the announcement to employees via email on Tuesday before appearing on CNBC's "Tech Check."

"I have been here almost a year since the deal was announced for a couple simple reasons," Kilar told CNBC's Julia Boorstin. "One, I love the team, the mission, I love this company. There was never a doubt in my mind I was going to stay through the end until the transition."

Kilar, the one-time CEO of Hulu, was named the head executive of AT&T's WarnerMedia division in April 2020, a month into the pandemic. He began the role in May with the launching of streaming platform HBO Max. He also was responsible for making the controversial decision last year to release all Warner Bros.' movies, both streaming and in theaters.

Kilar, who has long lamented that the upcoming Discovery transaction would ultimately lead to his departure, is expected to leave the job on Friday. The executive has been open about his disappointment that he will leave the company, but has not publicly said what is ahead for him.

"I don't have any grand proclamations," Kilar said about his future. "I'm not going to a beach to retire. I'm excited about what comes next. Right now, I am focused on WarnerMedia."

David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery, will take over the combined company once the merger is finalized.

Read Kilar's full email to employees:

With the pending transaction with Discovery nearing close, now is the right time to share with each of you that I will be departing this amazing company.

There are many feelings one could have in a moment like this, but for me there are none bigger, or more lasting, than the feelings of gratitude and love that I have for this team, this company, and this mission. I've never been more fulfilled professionally. I've never been happier professionally. This team — and what we've built together — are the reasons for that. We're leading the industry creatively. We've elevated technology, product, and design to the highest levels in the company. We're operating as one team, proudly and successfully going direct to consumers across the globe. It has been deeply gratifying to lean into the future alongside each of you and to do so with conviction.

The joys are many, especially the walk-and-talks that I've had with a great many WarnerMedia team members, diving deeply into the matters at hand, whether on the storied lot in Burbank, along The High Line at Hudson Yards, in and around Techwood and CNN Center, inside our archives, across the expansive lot at Leavesden, at any of our game studio locations, or the many other locations where this team quite literally changes the world. Apparently, word has gotten around that when Jason calls for a walk-and-talk, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!

For those of you that know me well (or follow me on Twitter), it comes as no surprise that I adore our history and the footprint we have as a company across the globe. I've done my best to visit and get to know as many of you as possible and to photographically document my love for this team and this company along the way via social media. So, when my wife Jamie and I were thinking about what we could do on our own to adequately express our appreciation to each of you, we came up with the idea to create a series of artifacts featuring some of the photos I've taken to celebrate this team and WarnerMedia. We're inviting each of you to visit this website and choose an image that resonates . . . from the iconic Warner Bros. water tower, the gleaming towers of Hudson Yards, the virtual production stage in Leavesden, and several more. An artifact featuring that image (and a note from me on the back) will be shipped to you in the coming weeks. Our hope is that this memento will bring a smile and remind you of the important contributions we've made to the 99-year legacy of this extraordinary company.

Leading this team has been the honor of my lifetime. My heart is so full, and I am beyond thankful to each of you. There is no better team on the planet, and I will savor every last step as I wander the lot in Burbank several more times this week, with this team on my mind, always.

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