Will Keenan announced today that he will be leaving his post as co-founder and president of live streaming startup Streamup after six months to take a six-month sabbatical from the industry and focus on spiritual exercises.
It won’t be the first spiritual break for Keenan. From 2003 to 2010, he spent extended periods living in ashrams, both in L.A. and India, where he did a stint as a Bollywood producer.
“There were stretches of months where I didn’t come out of my meditation room,” Keenan told VideoInk. “But I was working projects back then, so I got them done.”
Keenan faces a similar conundrum now. While he announced his departure today, he estimates that his spiritual break won’t really start for another two months, after he’s tied up loose ends at Streamup and wrapped-up work on a feature film project (expected to be announced later this week) and a TV show he’s co-producing in association with Emmy-winning producer Gina Rubenstein for Langley Productions featuring top YouTube stars mentoring aspiring online creators.
Keenan took a short spiritual break just last summer at Vipassana Center in Twentynine Palms, Ca., after leaving his post as president of Endemol Beyond USA in August. While there, he took a vow of silence. There was no reading, writing or exercise, only sleep and meditation. The rules are significantly less strict for his coming break from the industry — he plans to live stream his exploits on his Streamup channel.
Keenan is no stranger to being on camera. The New Jersey native spent the first decade and a half of his career producing and/or starring in a long list of low-budget films including “Tromeo & Juliet” and “Terror Firmer.” After his time in Bolllywood, he did a two-year stint at fast-rising multi-channel network Maker Studios, pre-Disney buyout, where he served as director of programming/network optimization.
In November 2013, Keenan was named president of Endemol Beyond, a just-launched division of Dutch-based TV producer Endemol (now Endemol Shine Group) established to create high-end productions to be distributed across multiple digital platforms, including YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Dailymotion.
During his tenure at Endemol Beyond, he signed a mix of mainstream and digital native talent to content deals, including rapper Pitbull, Michelle Phan, Andy Milonakis, Brittany Furlan, Courtney Love and former “Sopranos” star (and longtime friend) Drea De Matteo.
Last September, following his stint at Vipassana, Keenan broke his silence and announced he was assuming the post of president at Streamup, a nascent live streaming platform that now boasts more than 21 million monthly active users.
During his brief tenure at Streamup, Keenan has closed a flurry of talent deals with digital influencers including Milonakis and YouTubers Jaclyn Glenn and BriaAndChrissy (Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers), known for provocative videos such as “Lesbians Touch Penis For The First Time!” and “15 Ways To Know You’re a GAY Teen!” Streamup recently finished working with start-up accelerator YCombinator, and last week it announced it was opening up its downtown L.A. penthouse studio to its creators, free-of-charge.
“Ever since [joining] Maker in summer of 2011, with the digital space growing as much as it did, I was working all the time, weekends till 4 in the morning,” said Keenan, who came to the decision over the Easter weekend. “So I’ve been looking forward to when I can take this nice long break, and now seemed like the perfect time.”
Keenan is scheduled to be a featured speaker at MIPTV’s Digital Fronts on April 5 in Cannes, France, where he plans to reveal more details about his future plans.
Streamup has not named a replacement for Keenan.