Kate McLean, president of the Los Angeles-based social media start-up theAudience, has left the company, CEO Oliver Luckett told TheWrap on Thursday.
McLean has been at theAudience since its founding less than three years ago. Speaking to TheWrap at a tech event, Luckett said the departure was amicable and McLean left for “personal reasons.”
McLean could not immediately be reached for comment.
The executive joined theAudience after more than a decade at Disney, where Luckett worked for three years after selling his prior company to the media conglomerate.
She had been inching her way out of the company and is taking a break before deciding what to do next, Luckett said. The Harvard graduate was one of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s top lieutenants, and worked at a pair of financial firms before joining Disney.
Co-founded by Napster co-founder Sean Parker, WME chief Ari Emanuel and Luckett, theAudience manages social media for celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg and Pitbull, and mounts social campaigns to bring attention to concerts, events and movies. Its campaign for “Spring Breakers” helped the movie gross more than $30 million worldwide with minimal promotional costs thanks to the social network power of stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and James Franco.
The company raised $20 million in a series A round of funding in November 2012. The round’s investors included Founders Fund, Guggenheim Partners, Participant Media, Capricorn Investment Group and Intertainment Media.
theAudience has recently begun working with brands and is involved in three ad campaigns running Sunday during the Super Bowl. It will help amplify the audience for those campaigns on social media, and advised on the casting some of the commercials. An actor or musician’s social presence now affects casting in commercials, movies and TV shows.
TechCrunch described the company’s work this way: “While celebrities working with theAudience aren’t necessarily creating their own content on a regular basis, the company does get the approval of its clients before blasting out their optimized tweets and status updates — and allows them to personalize the messages before they drop.”
McLean was an integral member of the leadership team.When the New York Times wrote this glowing story about the company a couple years ago, McLean joined Luckett in the main photo.
Yet Luckett said the departure was a part of the natural evolution for his growing start-up, which will be part of an upcoming PBS Frontline documentary and now has more than 180 employees across three (and soon four) offices.