January 7, 2022
Roku is about to lose a key executive amid word Friday that Scott Rosenberg, SVP and general manager of Roku's Platform business, plans to step down sometime in the spring of 2022.
The loss is not trivial, as Rosenberg heads up what has become the fastest-growing piece of Roku's business. Roku's Platforms unit, which includes advertising, content and OS licensing for products such as integrated Roku TVs, has long outpaced the revenue growth of the company's division focused on streaming players and other types of CE hardware.
Figure 1: The Roku Channel, a key driver of advertising for Roku, is part of the company's Platform business. Pictured is a screencap from The Roku Channel's web browser app.
In the third quarter of 2021, Roku's Platform business generated revenues of $582.5 million, up 82% year-over-year, aided in part by strong growth at The Roku Channel, the company's aggregated streaming service for free, ad-supported content as well as subscription services. By comparison, the company's Player revenues dipped 26% to $97.4 million.
Rosenberg has been with Roku for almost a decade, having joined the company in 2012 as vice president of advertising and business development. Rosenberg was promoted to his current position in 2017.
He has served in key leadership areas at Roku during several milestones at the company, including the introduction of its first Roku TV in 2014, the debut of The Roku Channel and the company's IPO in 2017, and the acquisition of Quibi's slate of short-form content last year – a move that marked Roku's more aggressive focus on original content.
"While Scott remains deeply invested in the company's success, he's ready for his next professional challenge and believes this is the right timeframe for him to make a change. I respect and fully support his decision," Anthony Wood, Roku's founder and CEO, said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Scott to ensure a smooth transition, while maintaining our relentless focus on building the best TV streaming platform."
Roku did not elaborate on why Rosenberg is leaving, or if the executive has already found a new landing spot. Roku has not announced who will be taking over Rosenberg's duties on a temporary or permanent basis.
"Rosenberg will continue to lead his teams until his departure. He is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and assisting with the recruitment process, which is underway," the company said in a statement.
Concerns about competition, growth potential
Rosenberg is departing Roku as the company continues to grapple with fierce competition and amid questions about its future growth potential.
In November 2021, MoffettNathanson cut Roku's stock to "sell" over concerns that revenue and earnings estimates for the streaming giant were "just too damn high." Analysts there are particularly concerned that Roku will be pressed to drive more impressions for advertising VoD as revenue growth from subscription-based VoD services shows signs of slowing.
And just this week, Roku shares dipped after Atlantic Equities issued an "underweight" initiation over similar concerns about slowing growth prospects as well as weak penetration in international markets.
The competitive situation isn't getting any easier for Roku, which ended Q3 2021 with 56.4 million active accounts, up 23% year-over-year.
Meanwhile, 9 to 5 Google reported this week that the Android TV/Google TV platform has surpassed 110 million monthly active devices, up 30 million since May. Amazon announced that it has sold more than 150 million Fire TV devices. Comcast is also getting into the act with the recent launch of a new line of XClass TVs for the US. Additionally, Comcast's UK-based Sky unit has launched a range of Sky Glass-branded TVs for Europe.
Roku shares were down 31 cents (1.04%) to $29.91 each in Friday morning trading.
Roku cuts new TV deal with Sharp Roku opens Amsterdam office to support global growth plans Roku downgraded to 'Sell' over revenue growth worries Roku and Google bury the hatchet Roku says ITC ban won't disrupt ability to import products Roku must 'ladder up' to original content to stay competitive – analyst — Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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