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Vessel, YouTube's Would-Be Rival, Hires a YouTube Exec

Ivana Kirkbride joins Jason Kilar's team and will head to Los Angeles.

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.

Vessel, the video startup that’s trying to recruit YouTube’s video makers and video watchers, has recruited a YouTube executive.

Ivana Kirkbride, who has been working on YouTube’s push to generate more content from some of its stars, is joining Vessel. She will move from San Bruno, Calif., down to Los Angeles, where she’ll head up a new office for the startup.

Vessel rep Matt Graves confirmed the hire; a YouTube rep declined to comment.

Kirkbride’s departure comes as her old department gets a new boss. Last week, YouTube announced that it had hired Susanne Daniels from Viacom’s MTV Networks. Daniels is going to head up YouTube’s original content push, though people familiar with the two moves say they are unconnected.

Kirkbride should be quite familiar with Vessel, since she spent much of the past year reacting to its moves. Vessel, co-founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, has set itself up as an alternate home for YouTube stars, telling them they could make more money than YouTube delivered if they offered exclusive “windows” for their stuff.

The strategy set off alarm bells at YouTube, prompting executives there to offer cash awards to keep top talent working on the world’s biggest video site; the company also created its new originals’ push, which is supposed to give YouTube stars an incentive to keep making stuff for the site.

Kirkbride worked on all of those efforts, which appear to have been successful, as Vessel hasn’t landed many of YouTube’s most famous creators. Now Vessel executives argue that they’re more interested in wooing a wider swath of less prominent YouTube video makers; they say those creators are more likely to see the benefit of Vessel’s subscription-plus-ads model — and that they’re more likely to generate the volume of content that Vessel needs.

Kirkbride joined YouTube in 2011 after starting her career as a banker. She is also, as far as I know, the only YouTube exec who has worked for Donald Trump. She competed on the second season of “The Apprentice” as Ivana Ma. (Fired in Week 13, says Wikipedia, which I’m going to have trust on this one.)

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