Warner Music COO Rob Wiesenthal quits to run ‘Uber for helicopters’

The second-in-command at Warner Music Group, COO Rob Wiesenthal, has resigned from the major to focus on his own company.

The exec, who reports into CEO Steven Cooper, will remain at Warner for the rest of June, and offer his services to the company until the end of September to smooth a transition.

Wiesenthal joined Warner in 2012 from Sony Corporation where he has served in various leadership roles including Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Sony Corporation of America; Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer, Sony Entertainment Inc.; and Group Executive, Sony Corporation.

He also led the transaction to buy Bertelsmann out of its stake in Sony Music Entertainment’s recorded music joint venture in 2008. He oversaw the rapid growth of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, including through the acquisition of EMI Publishing in 2011 and the purchase of the Leiber Stoller and Viacom Famous Music catalogues in 2007.

In a memo to Warner staff yesterday – which you can read below – CEO Steven Cooper explained that Wiesenthal was resigning to focus his attention on his own company, Blade.

Blade acts as an Uber-style booking app for personal helicopter and plane journeys in the US.

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.

“I respect rob’s desire to concentrate his energies in the entrepreneurial world. We wish him all the best with his venture.”

Steven Cooper, WMG

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.


SteveMusic Business Worldwide

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