Netflix's abrupt late-week announcement of Marian Lee being promoted to take over its CMO role from Bozoma Saint John left out one key detail - why is Saint John leaving after just 22 months at Netflix?
“I’ve loved working with Boz and have been inspired by her creativity and energy,” said Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos in a statement Thursday that conspicuously left out the raison d'être. “She has attracted world class marketers to the company and encouraged them to be innovative leaders. We are grateful for her contributions and we wish her the best.”
For her part, the high-profile marketing executive herself illuminated very little. “I came to Netflix with a surplus of enthusiasm and creative energy and am immensely proud of the campaigns we inspired that sparked global conversations,” Saint John said. “It’s been a transformative two-year experience for which I will always be grateful.”
With Saint john receiving a huge pay raise to leave Endeavor in June 2020 for Netflix -- one report had her taking a "$7 million payday" to assume the streaming company's top marketing role -- Saint John's last job move was more easily understood.
But her previous transitions follow a similar pattern, notably Saint John's also abrupt exit from Uber after just 12 months on the job. Or when she left Apple after 34 months to join Uber.
Speculating Thursday evening in his popular, venture-capital-funded daily newsletter The Ankler, entertainment business reporter Richard Rushfield noted that Saint John's high salary (he pegged it at $4 million a year) has caused some folks in the video business to wonder, "How did she even keep the job so long? What took them so long?
"But really the question should be — why her?," Rushfield continued. "Boz's badass content of all-self-promotion, all-the-time attitude was the perfect personification of the service's ethos. So if they have suddenly figured that isn't working out, why should Boz be the one to pay the price?"
True, it's not much insight, but it's a start.
Notably, at SXSW in March 2019, which was about nine months after leaving Uber, Saint John did provide some vague insight as to that departure.
“When I got to Uber I was honest in my desire to go and change essentially what I thought was a challenging environment, especially for women and for people of color,” she said. “What I discovered was a lot of people who had a desire to do better, honestly, but couldn’t get out of their own way.
“At some point it became too overwhelming for me,” she concluded. “It became a good lesson for all of us: You don’t need to be the savior, you can save yourself, too.”
In any event, look for Saint John -- who recently purchased a $5.2 million home in Malibu -- to wind up somewhere else high-profile soon to save her own bottom line. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!