VidCon has a New CEO

I’ve been the “CEO” of VidCon for eight years, and there’s a reason I used quotation marks just now

I love online video. I’ve been obsessed with it since day one. Maybe it’s because my older brother was obsessed first, and I immediately love the things he loves. Maybe it’s because it gave me a voice and connected me with so many talented, fantastic people. Maybe for the same reason so many other people do, because it speaks to me in a way that no other medium does.

So when I realized someone was, someday, going to make a conference for the online video community (and industry) I freaked out and made one myself (with a lot of help, of course). I had never run a business, let alone one that grew so quickly. I majored in biochemistry, what the frik was I thinking? So, I was often out of my depth, but with the help of great hires, great partners, and a great community VidCon has become something pretty remarkable.

But I also think a lot of VidCon’s success came from having a very clear vision. Whenever I have a hard decision to make at VidCon, I ask two questions:

  1. Does this celebrate, inform, or strengthen today’s online video community?
  2. Does this push us toward a future where more people can be professional creators?

Of course, sometimes I don’t know for sure, but those are my touchstones, and as long as I’ve known what I’m focusing on, that has helped me get through difficult moments.

But I have also often said to the VidCon team that it is extremely important to VidCon that I am a creator first. I need to be in this world, I need to be making videos, learning new platforms, growing an audience, watching new creators, and generally being obsessed with online video.

I need to be an indie YouTuber on Vlogbrothers, and a CEO at Complexly, and an advisory board member at Patreon and the Internet Creator’s Guild. Those experiences allow me to effectively guide VidCon and keep it relevant to today’s online video. But that also means that I’m not a full-time CEO at VidCon.

So for a while I’ve been on the lookout for a full-time CEO. Someone who can lead a global effort to support and celebrate and democratize this creative industry. One who can work with and lead the VidCon team every day.

It was never something that I felt like was needed right now, though. I have always really enjoyed building great teams that execute a great vision. And I wasn’t interested in hiring someone unless it was the perfect someone. VidCon needs someone experienced at running a small but growing company, and who has a deep history in online video as a culture and an industry, and someone who has a real understanding of the values of our company and the event.

That’s a tall order, so I honestly wasn’t expecting to find someone. And then I realized I’d been overlooking a candidate who we had been working with for years.

Jim Louderback has been to every VidCon since we started in the basement of a hotel in 2010. He’s worked directly with our team for years leading our industry track both in the U.S. and internationally. Everyone on staff really likes him because he’s always thoughtful, has great insight, and has just the right mix of chill and drive.

Jim started his career in magazines, finishing his tenure as Editor in Chief at PC Magazine in the 2000s. He was one of the first people in TV to recognize the extreme importance of online video, leading him to a role as CEO at one of the first digital-facing content companies, Revision3. Since leaving Rev3 a few year’s after it was acquired by Discovery, Jim has been advising a VC firm and a bunch of online-video focused companies (including, of course, VidCon.)

Yup. I’m not above sharing a picture of the guy who’s taking my job hosting ZDTV’s “Fresh Gear” in 1999.

I have learned a great deal from Jim, as have many of the people on the VidCon team. I’m so glad that he was both available and interested in taking on this challenge. I like Jim a lot, but what it really comes down to is that I trust him, and our entire core leadership team, to ask the exact same two questions listed above when there’s a hard decision. I trust them to put that vision first, not just because it’s what I want, but because it’s what’s best for our industry, and for VidCon itself.

Also! I’m not going anywhere. I’m basically still doing all of the same things I was doing. I’ll be helping create and form content, making sure we do right by the creators we feature at the event, and helping solve all of the big hairy problems a company with so many diverse stakeholders inevitably has. I pride myself on being an excellent leader at VidCon, and I will keep doing that. Going forward I will Executive Chair VidCon’s board, and Jim will report to the board. But as a content advisor, I will work for Jim.

I’m basically hiring my own boss, and I am thrilled.

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