The BBC has hired the former chief technology officer of Joost as the chief technical architect of its future media and technology group. There are reports that his contract at the broadband video startup may have been prematurely terminated. At the BBC he will be responsible for the design and development of technology for online, interactive television and mobile services.
According to reports attributed to a Joost representative, Dirk-Willem van Gulik was “terminated” as chief technology officer at Joost. Apparently he will remain as a consultant and investor in the start-up company, which would seem to present something of a conflict of interest with his new role at the public service broadcaster. He is also a member of the Apache Software Foundation.
In a statement, Joost announced that it had hired Matt Zelesko as senior vice president of engineering, based in New York. He was previously in the same role at Comcast Interactive Media, where he was responsible for creating the platform for their online properties including Fancast.
“Matt brings an unparalleled combination of technological vision, management expertise and strategic thinking that is critical as Joost embarks on our next phase of growth,” said Mike Volpi, chief executive officer of Joost. “I’ve known Matt for many years, having worked together at Cisco, and I’m confident that he is the ideal person to lead Joost’s engineering organisation.”
There was no news of the departure of their chief technology officer, although according to comments attributed to a Joost representative, his contract was terminated. The source said: “The parting of the ways was indeed initiated by Joost, however as is evident by the way the story unfolded, it was not initially our intention to reveal it as such”.
The following day, Erik Huggers, the future media and technology controller at the BBC, announced that Dirk-Willem van Gulik would be joining the group as chief technical architect. He said that he had “made significant contributions to the development of the internet” and that “his knowledge and expertise will be of great advantage to the BBC and the industry”.
This was not apparently universally acknowledged. One commenter said he was “all hat and no cattle”. It seems that there is some concern within Joost about user numbers. Another person, who claimed to be a Joost insider, said the mood in the company was “very bad” while cash burn is “way too high” and “there is a lot of nervousness”.
The BBC has also hired a new head of technology for its internet group. Zavisa Bjelogrlic, former chief executive of Asemantics, whose clients included Skype and Joost, will report to Tony Ageh, controller of internet at the BBC.
The future and technology media division has been hiring a lot of senior staff from outside the corporation in an effort to inject new blood and accelerate its development in line with online trends.