Moving HBO’s new streaming service to an external platform is a
blow to Otto Berkes, the chief technology officer of HBO. Since
becoming HBO’s CTO in 2012, Berkes has brought in a number of his
ex-colleagues from Microsoft and set up a large office in Seattle
with 55 engineers, laying off a number of longtime employees in
New York. The Seattle office, which is rumored to cost HBO as much
as $100 million per year, has been the source of internal
squabbling at the company. Insiders accused Berkes of building “a
Napoleonic empire” within HBO.
From a recent Glassdoor review:
The once great group, now called Digital Products, has been in
decline since about 2012. Change had been desperately needed,
but change we got is toxic and lacking unity, direction and
clarity. Culture is now unfriendly and full of back stabbing
done with a smile.
Earlier this year, HBO Go suffered several embarrassing outages
during episodes of Game of Thrones and True Detective. According
to sources, Berkes had known about a “memory leak” for nine months
but decided it was a “non-issue.” That leak eventually led to the
HBO Go outages. Internally, some accused Berkes of using the
outages as a way to ask for more money to invest in his Seattle
engineering team. He got the investment, but HBO executives have
not been pleased with what he’s delivered.
Pitch: an HBO series about an HBO-like premium cable channel going through the rough transition to the post-cable streaming world.