Insider: Bozoma Saint John Took $7 Million Payday to Leap to Netflix (Exclusive)

The streaming giant broke open the piggy bank to offer the sought-after marketing exec drastically more than Endeavor could

Bozoma Saint John, marketing executive extraordinaire, scored big when she took the chief marketing officer gig at Netflix last week, TheWrap has learned.

The former Endeavor marketing leader was offered a roughly $7 million payday to work for the streamer, according to an insider familiar with the deal. That package was “dramatically more” than what Saint John was earning at Endeavor, according to the individual.

Netflix and Endeavor declined to comment for this article. TheWrap was unable to reach Saint John for comment as well.

Saint John, whose contract was up at the end of the year, is just the latest in a slew of notable executives to exit Endeavor. In June, WME lost partner and Worldwide Head of Music Marc Geiger, as well as agent and partner Theresa Kang-Lowe, who left to launch her own management company with an overall deal at Apple TV+. The agency also shed talent agent Sean Grumman, now at Verve’s new talent division, and Duncan Millership now at Anonymous Content.

The entertainment company has been hit especially hard by the industry shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with WME talent agency laying off or furloughing about 20% of its workforce in May. Endeavor was also forced to pull its IPO late last year, leaving the agency holding on to nearly $5 billion in debt.

Netflix is infamous in Hollywood for its willingness to poach executives at all levels, creating price wars and tensions within the industry’s business ranks. A year ago Fox won a lawsuit against Netflix for poaching its executives. 

The streaming giant has likewise done the same in drawing in creative talent. Just two years ago, Netflix threw $100 million to nab Kenya Barris in an overall deal, and followed that up by landing Channing Dungey, former president of ABC Entertainment, where Barris did most of his work.

But one top marketing executive at a major studio said the $7 million figure for a CMO was extremely high for Hollywood. “That is an incredibly high number as it seems that Netflix is playing with Monopoly money,” the executive said.

Netflix spent more than $15 billion on content last year.

Saint John is replacing Jackie Lee-Joe, who left the company after less than a year on the job for personal reasons. Before Lee-Joe, Kelly Bennett served as the company’s CMO, making a stunning $9.2 million — $3.2 million in salary and a $5.3 million severance plan — in 2019, according to the company’s 2020 proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He earned $5.3 million in salary the year before.

Bennett spent seven years helping lead Netflix’s marketing efforts as it grew from 26 million subscribers in 2012 to more than 139 million paid members around the world last year. Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said last week they’re looking forward to Saint John leading the next phase.

“Bozoma Saint John is an exceptional marketer who understands how to drive conversations around popular culture better than almost anyone,” Sarandos said in a statement last week. “As we bring more great stories to our members around the world, she’ll define and lead our next exciting phase of creativity and connection with consumers.”

Saint John has held top marketing roles at Uber, Apple Music and Pepsi-Cola North America before going to Endeavor. The highly sought after marketing executive has been vocal in the past about knowing your worth, especially as a black woman, and demanding equal pay.

“The point about pay and equity is we have to demand our worth,” Saint John said on-stage at Cannes Lions 2018. “When you look at black women it’s even worse. I began to switch that dynamic very early on. I began to research the position, figure out the hierarchy, and then went in with my offer – and I always asked for whatever a white man is making in that same job.”

Trey Williams

Trey Williams

Film Reporter covering the biz • trey.williams@thewrap.com • Twitter: @trey3williams



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