Parcast founder quits Spotify to pursue “entrepreneurial roots”

Senior partnerships executive Max Cutler was responsible for managing exclusive Spotify creators including Joe Rogan and Emma Chamberlain

Parcast founder Max Cutler will reportedly be leaving his role as Spotify’s head of talk creator content and partnerships in May, after working at the company for nearly four years. 

The executive joined the company after Spotify acquired Parcast in 2019, a digital media firm and podcast network that Cutler set up in 2016. Following his promotion to vice president last year, he was responsible for overseeing exclusive Spotify deals with top creators including Joe Rogan, Emma Chamberlain, and Alex Cooper. 

In an internal memo that Cutler wrote to Spotify staff on his departure, viewed and reported by both The Verge, Bloombergand The Hollywood Reporter, he said that he would be leaving to return to his “entrepreneurial roots” and to launch his own start-up venture. . 

“With the traditional media industry ripe for disruption, I am excited to take on this new challenge and drive innovation forward,” said Cutler. “I am deeply grateful to Daniel [Ek], Alex [Norström], and Sahar [Elhabashi] for their unwavering support of my decision to return to my entrepreneurial roots as I embark on this next chapter.”

Taking over Cutler’s responsibilities over licensed podcast exclusives after his upcoming departure on 1 May will be Spotify head of US studios and video Julie McNamara. Additionally, Spotify head of global sports strategy Bill Simmons will help develop the company’s podcast monetisation strategy with Spotify vice president and global head of advertising, Lee Brown. Former TikTok head of content partnerships Bryan Thoensen, who joined Spotify as a senior director and head of content partnerships, will also now oversee third-party content partnerships, having previously reported to Cutler. 

McNamara, Simmons, and Thoensen will all report to Sahar Elhabashi, the head of Spotfy’s content business, who took over from former chief content officer Dawn Ostroff after her departure at the end of January this year. Elhabashi will now report to Spotify’s chief business officer, Alex Norstorm, instead of CEO Daniel Ek. 

Ostroff’s departure was part of the company’s broader reorganisation of its staff after it announced that it will be laying off 6% of its employees globally. This was due to £200 million of operating loss reported in Q4 2022, which Spotify blamed on its heavy podcast investments, although Ek said that he does not regret it and would do it again. 

Although Ek said that Spotify will have a tighter budget going forward - which already includes Spotify’s announcement of a reduced hiring growth by 25% in June 2022 - in hopes of being “more efficient”, the company will continue to make podcast and audiobook investments that would be valuable for the company. This most recently included an exclusive Spotify deal with one of the UK’s top podcast creators Louis Thereoux.