Netflix said Wednesday it had hired media finance veteran Spencer Neumann as CFO, just two days after Activision Blizzard announced he would be terminated from its top finance job.
Neumann’s gaming-to-streaming move fills the vacancy at Netflix created by the resignation of David Wells. It also may explain Activision’s announcement in a regulatory filing Monday that it intended to terminate him “for cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.”
Neumann had been at Activision for only 18 months. According to Reuters, he was terminated for “violating his legal obligations to the company.”
“Spencer is a stellar entertainment executive and we’re thrilled that he will help us provide amazing stories to people all over the world,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a news release.
Before joining Activision in May 2017, Neumann was CFO of Walt Disney Co.’s parks and resorts division. He also worked in private equity from 2005 to 2012 after an initial stint at Disney.
Netflix, which is making more of its own films and shows, would like its next CFO to be based in Los Angeles with a focus on production finance, a source told Reuters.
“Netflix is a singular brand, and I’m excited and honored for the opportunity to work with the Netflix team and all of our stakeholders to build on the company’s exceptional track record of success and innovation,” Neumann said.
At Activision, Neumann will be replaced by Chief Corporate Officer Dennis Durkin, who served as CFO for five years before Neumann’s appointment.
Gamesindustry.biz noted that during his first spell as Activision finance chief, the company delivered a 400% increase in its share price. “Mr. Durkin is a highly respected and qualified replacement, which is a key positive given the unexpected transition,” Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst at Baird Equity Research, said.
In its regulatory filing, Activision said Neumann had been placed on paid leave pending an opportunity for him to show why he should not be terminated for cause.
Netflix is “known for poaching executives who are still under contract and has been sued over that practice by both 21st Century Fox and Viacom,” Reuters said.