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Exclusive: YouTube Product Head Shishir Mehrotra Likely to Depart -- Moving to Advisory Role

Not a surprise given he was one of the candidates to run the premium video network.


Shishir Mehrotra, YouTube’s head of product and a longtime Google exec, is likely to depart the company, and has moved to an advisory role at the premium online video powerhouse.

A spokesperson for the search giant said Mehrotra would become an adviser at the company, after being contacted by Re/code, but would not confirm a full departure.

The spokesperson noted only that “Shishir has taken on an advisory role at Google.” What that entails exactly is unclear — including the unlikely possibility of staying at the search giant — and the company also declined to name a successor to Mehrotra.

Several sources had said that Mehrotra had recently been talking to high-profile venture firms, as well as several significant startups, about new jobs.

The change is significant. At YouTube, he is a very big deal, responsible for product, engineering and user experience as well as monetization functions. Mehrotra came to Google in 2008, after a long stint at Microsoft, to work on its then-nascent GoogleTV efforts.

The move is not a huge surprise, given Mehrotra was also a candidate to take over YouTube, a job that went to high-profile Google advertising product exec Susan Wojcicki.

YouTube’s other big exec, Robert Kyncl, who runs its content and business operations, was also a potential candidate for that job, but he seems to be remaining at the unit in his current role.

Wojcicki appears to be very active with her new job, said sources, reaching out to a variety of Hollywood and other entertainment players in an attempt to forge more functional relationships. While YouTube is by far the biggest player in the online video landscape, many content makers are resentful of its power and want better business terms with it.

To take advantage of the situation, Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to create a YouTube competitor. She has been talking to content creators and also considering programming choices, as well as eyeing the acquisition of online video network News Distribution Network for $350 million.

(Please see my ethics disclosure here related to Google.)

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