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Warner Music Group COO Rob Wiesenthal Leaves to Run Blade, His Uber-For-Helicopters Startup

The media industry vet moves to the helicopter-for-hire business.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Rob Wiesenthal, Warner Music Group’s chief operating officer, is leaving the company. He’s going to run Blade, an Uber-for-helicopters company he started up a couple of years ago.

Wiesenthal is a media industry veteran best known for his work at Sony, where he held various roles including chief financial officer at the company’s U.S. unit. He came to Warner in 2013 and helped the company put together deals with Clear Channel, Snapchat and most recently Apple, for its upcoming Apple Music service.


Last month Blade, which lets users order helicopter rides from New York City to the Hamptons and other vacation spots on the Eastern seaboard, raised $6 million. Investors include Raine Ventures, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and IAC CEO Barry Diller.

Warner hasn’t announced a successor; a person familiar with the company’s thinking says it may end up not hiring another COO, but hiring a digital deal specialist instead.

Here’s Warner CEO Stephen Cooper’s memo to the company announcing the change:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to share the news that Rob Wiesenthal, WMG’s Chief Operating Officer/Corporate, has decided to leave the company to become CEO of Blade, the first crowdsourced short distance aviation company, which Rob co-founded while he was still at Sony. The company recently took on significant investment and, at this inflection point, Rob has decided to accept this appointment and help guide Blade to the next level.

I respect Rob’s desire to concentrate his energies in the entrepreneurial world and Blade will clearly benefit from his digital and commercial expertise. Ever since he joined WMG in January 2013, Rob has led the effort to broaden our deal-making universe, helping us to forge new models with established players as well as to build what he calls a “digital nursery” of partnerships with innovative start-ups. Besides first-of-their kind alliances with well-known players like Clear Channel and Shazam, he and the team formed groundbreaking relationships with newer names such as Snapchat, Interlude, Vessel and SoundCloud. Not only that, he also was a member of the team that closed the deal for us to acquire Parlophone Label Group (PLG) in February 2013.

We wish Rob all the best with his venture and thank him for his achievements at WMG. He will be staying with us until the end of month, while we begin a search for a successor, and Rob will continue to be available to us through September 30th to help with the transition. In the meantime, I know the immensely capable Business Development and Digital Legal Affairs teams will continue to expertly guide our business development efforts. As always, our goal is to strengthen, diversify and evolve our company as we offer WMG artists and songwriters a range of opportunities unmatched in our industry.



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