Kilar to Helm Video Venture

NEW YORK Former executive Jason Kilar has been named CEO of the NBC Universal/News Corp. joint online video venture set to launch this year, the companies said.

Beginning July 9, Kilar, who spent nearly a decade at Amazon, will head the still-unnamed Web initiative, which counts Yahoo, Time Warner’s AOL, Microsoft, MySpace, CNet and Comcast among its partners and is designed to rival Google’s YouTube. He will report to the venture’s board of directors, which includes News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin and NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker.

“Jason is a proven leader and innovator with a wealth of experience on both the technology and content sides of the equation,” Zucker said. “He is the right person to make sure our new initiative offers a consumer experience worthy of remark.”

Kilar, 36, began his career at Disney in 1993 and then moved to Amazon in 1997, where he wrote the original business plan, said NBCU and News Corp., that helped transition the e-commerce giant from bookselling into video and DVD sales.

He served as vp, gm of the video and DVD unit and was later named vp, gm of Amazon’s North American media businesses. Kilar later served as svp of the company’s worldwide application software, reporting to CEO Jeff Bezos.

“We already have access to world-class content and near-ubiquitous distribution,” Chernin said. “The next step is marrying it with the features and tools that will help define the ideal user experience for video content on the Web. We think Jason is the ideal person to lead that effort.”

Announced in March, the joint venture will provide a centralized location for movies and TV shows from NBCU, News Corp. and other content owners along with showcasing the video across different Web portals, such as AOL and Yahoo. NBCU chief digital officer George Kliavkoff had been the interim CEO of the initiative since its inception.

“As a team, we have a unique opportunity to create a great customer experience through the combination of innovative technology and high quality content,” said Kilar. “This is a big, inherently fun mission with which I’m proud and very excited to be associated.”

The project is expected to provide an alternative to YouTube, which has come under scrutiny from the media conglomerates. In March, Viacom filed a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against the video-sharing site, and last month, NBCU filed a friend of court brief in support of the conglomerate.