Google is building a media and entertainment empire — here are 10 stars leading the effort (GOOG, GOOGL)

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With its army of computer engineers, Google is an icon of the Silicon Valley tech world.

But it’s also one of the most powerful players in the entertainment and media industry, thanks to an impressive catalog of products and services that spans digital music, videos, gaming and sports.

YouTube, the Google-owned video-sharing hub, is the No. 2 most visited site on the web and one of the world’s top sources of music.

But YouTube is just one part of Google’s sprawling entertainment empire:

  • Google Play, which serves as the digital store for Android and its more than 2 billion active users across the globe, moves tons of music, movies, TV shows and games. 
  • YouTube TV, the internet-based multi-channel TV service, is not yet two years old but is already enticing customers away from the much-maligned traditional cable players.  
  • And then there’s the world of emerging media like virtual reality and smart speakers. 

To make its mark in the industry, Google has enlisted an impressive stable of entertainment industry veterans and tech-savvy innovators, dispatching them to outposts in Los Angeles, New York and other key entertainment hotspots. 

The team helping Google expand its entertainment empire includes dealmakers, creatives and techies. Here are some of the key must-know players on the team:

SEE ALSO: Music honcho Lyor Cohen played hardball with YouTube for years, then shocked everyone by joining the enemy. Here’s how he stayed on top and why he says it’s time haters ‘liberate’ themselves.

SEE ALSO: Apple should look at YouTube TV and be embarrassed that it didn’t come up with the idea first, analysts say

Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music

He’s a rap aficionado, turned label chief, turned digital-music exec.

During a 30-year career as a record producer and music exec, Lyor Cohen worked with or helped develop such acts as Jay-Z, The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and Kanye West.  

Then he switched sides

YouTube scored a major coup when it hired Cohen in 2016. Among his old label pals, the move was unpopular. For a variety of reasons, many once saw Google as a threat. The main knock is that YouTube doesn’t pay enough for the music videos that helped turn the site into an entertainment juggernaut. 

But Cohen, the former CEO of Recorded Music at Warner Music Group, has done much to patch up the relationship. Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, the labels top lobbyist, complimented the job Cohen’s done.

“I think Lyor Cohen is doing a very good job of persuading the people at YouTube that they need to be partners with the music industry,” Sherman told Business Insider in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, YouTube remains one of world’s the largest music distributors. And to counter a challenge from Apple Music and Spotify, Cohen recently helped launch YouTube’s new subscription music service. 



Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content at YouTube

Susanne Daniels is one of the people responsible for bringing the series “Cobra Kai,” to YouTube Premium. 

If you’re from a certain generation, the show’s title is instantly recognizable and may remind you that you once tried fighting your brother while standing on one leg.

The series, which has met with glowing reviews, is based on “The Karate Kid” films, and reprises the lives of two main characters, played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka.     

YouTube Premium, formerly known as as YouTube Red, offers ad-free streaming of all of YouTube’s user-generated video. In addition, Premium also offers high-production quality film and TV fare from A-list directors. And that’s where Daniels comes in. 

She oversees development, programming and production of all of Premium’s films and shows. Before Google, Daniels worked on such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek, and Gilmore Girls at places like MTV, Fox, LifeTime TV and The WB.


Jonathan Zepp, leads media & entertainment for Android & Google Play

Google Play is the online store with the inside track to all those billions of Android users. This, and the fact that sometimes the menu at Netflix is lackluster, has helped make Play a top web retailer.

Jonathan Zepp manages partnerships and business strategy for Entertainment, Sports and News video content. He and his team also drive business and content operations for the Google Play Movies & TV first-party service.

According to a story in Variety, Zepp has helped raise Google’s sales of downloadable film and TV shows, or what is known in the business as transactional electronic sell-through.

Prior to joining Google, Zepp worked at Sony Network Entertainment, Paramount Pictures and Napster. Zepp started out as a corporate and intellectual property lawyer.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider