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Video startups Zefr and Mitu have hired new leaders

Mitu, a Latino-targeted video network, gets a new CEO; Zefr, a YouTube ad service, gets a new president.

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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.

Digital video, as you may have heard, is big and going to get bigger. So let’s quickly check in with two LA-based video startups that are shuffling executives as part of their “let’s get bigger, too” strategy:

  • Mitu, a video network that specializes in stuff made for and about Latinos, has hired Herb Scannell as its new CEO. He replaces co-founder Roy Burstin; Beatriz Acevedo, Mitu’s other founder, stays on as president.
  • Zefr, a company that helps advertisers target users on YouTube, has hired Toby Byrne, the former head of ad sales for Fox Networks, as its president. He’ll report to founder/CEOs Zach James and Rich Raddon.

More details:

If you’ve been paying attention to digital video for a long time, you’ll remember that this is Scannell’s second time running a startup: Ten years ago, he was the CEO of Next New Networks, a YouTube-era startup that ultimately sold to ... YouTube.

He also has lots of traditional TV experience, with stints at Viacom and most recently as president of BBC America.

Scannell says he thinks he can help Mitu, which says it currently generates 650 million “content views” per month, grow its core business and start branching out into new ones, like events, licensing and movies.

It’s worth noting that one of Mitu’s primary backers is Upfront Ventures, one of the investors that was deeply involved in Maker Studios, the video company that Disney bought for (eventually) around $700 million. Maker replaced its CEO/co-founder about a year before that deal closed.

Zefr, meanwhile, has tried on a few different identities over the course of its eight-year history. It started out as a movie clip company, then morphed into a business that helped rights owners claim their stuff on YouTube.

Most recently it has been helping advertisers track audiences they want to target on YouTube. Its selling point is that it helps track users based on the content of the videos they watch, not their demography, which is the way YouTube generally sells its audience.

James’s job is to help accelerate that part of Zefr’s business, while making it more profitable: He wants the company to shift its focus from a service business — finding particular audiences for advertisers and helping them buy ads — to an automated one, where advertisers just use Zefr’s software to find the audiences and then handle the ad-buying on their own.

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