Hollywood 2022: Warner–End of (Turbulent) Era

Warner Corporate Execs Leave Ahead of Discovery Deal Close

HBO Max chief Andy Forssell and chief revenue officer Tony Goncalves follow the exits of Jason Kilar and Ann Sarnoff.

As the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery is expected to close as early as this Friday, nine top corporate executives at WarnerMedia — including HBO Max chief Andy Forssell, chief revenue officer Tony Goncalves, chief technology officer Richard Tom and chief financial officer Jennifer Biry — will exit the company, a WarnerMedia spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Other top execs leaving include Jim Cummings, executive vp and chief human resources officer; Christy Haubegger, exec vp communications and chief inclusion officer; and Jim Meza, WarnerMedia’s general counsel.

The executives will follow Ann Sarnoff, the chair and CEO of Warner, and Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia, out the door as AT&T’s entertainment unit merges with Discovery under the leadership of David Zaslav, resulting in an exodus of top executives.

Zaslav has not yet outlined his exec lineup for the merged Warner. Discovery, but the clearing out of top WarnerMedia executives was expected given that deal’s imminent closing.

Leadership of WarnerMedia’s streaming offerings, which include HBO Max and CNN+, also remains up in the air with the departure of executives like Forssell, who joined WarnerMedia in 2019, reporting up to Kilar, ahead of HBO Max’s launch in 2020.

During his tenure, Forssell oversaw the launch of ad-supported HBO Max tier and helped grow the streamer, alongside HBO, to 73.8 million global subscribers at the end of 2021.

The executive also led HBO Max’s international expansion into markets including Latin America, the Caribbean, the Nordics, and Central and Eastern Europe. Prior to HBO Max, Forssell was the chief operating officer at Otter Media and was formerly an interim CEO of Hulu.

Goncalves was also instrumental in developing HBO Max and leading the streamer’s distribution as the head of revenue. The executive joined WarnerMedia in 2018 as the head of Otter Media (at the time, it was a joint venture between AT&T and The Chernin Group) before adding oversight of WarnerMedia’s streaming efforts a year later. He assumed oversight of all revenue for WarnerMedia in 2020.

An AT&T vet before joining WarnerMedia, Goncalves led strategy and business development for the telecom company, and before that worked as a senior executive at DirecTV, overseeing the launch of the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming product, among other initiatives. His role overseeing advertising sales, distribution and licensing was significant, and it isn’t immediately clear if Discovery will combine those units in its new organizational structure. Following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, Disney combined all revenue into one business unit, opening the door for Zaslav to make a similar move if he chooses to do so.