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Verizon is buying Jason Kilar's video startup Vessel and shutting it down

Kilar won’t be joining Verizon, but his co-founder, Richard Tom, will.

Vessel CEO Jason Kilar
Asa Mathat

Verizon said Wednesday it is buying the technology behind Vessel, the short-form video firm started by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar.

The telecom giant is acquiring Vessel’s product and technology, but plans to shut down the Vessel service. Kilar won’t be joining Verizon long-term, but his co-founder, Vessel CTO Richard Tom, will become the CTO for Verizon’s digital entertainment efforts, including its Go90 mobile video service.

Recode reported last month that Verizon was looking to acquire Vessel, which was launched in 2015.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though the transaction should close within the next 30 days.

It’s the latest in a string of deals for Verizon and AT&T, both of which are upping their content game significantly. Verizon bought AOL last year and is in the process of acquiring Yahoo’s business, while AT&T bought DirecTV and just announced its plan to spend $86 billion to buy Time Warner.

In an interview, Verizon Entertainment General Manager Chip Canter said that the company plans to merge some of the social features that Vessel was working on with the content strategy Verizon already has in place. Verizon is also looking at how to evolve beyond the free Go90 service into paid subscriptions and other over-the-top services.

“We saw an opportunity to accelerate those efforts,” Canter said.

As for Vessel subscribers, Tom said annual subscribers will get a prorated refund, and all customers will get October free. Tom declined to say how many people had signed up for Vessel’s service.

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