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Venu Sports Management Team Confirmed With Key Leadership Announcement

Pete Distad, who was previously announced as CEO of the forthcoming Venu Sports streaming service, today announced the members of Venu’s founding leadership team tasked with bringing the service to market this Fall. Based in New York and Los Angeles, the leadership team will include seasoned executives hailing from leading entertainment, media, technology, sports, and sports betting companies.

“Getting the chance to assemble the starting lineup for the management team responsible for building the Venu organization, creating the culture, setting the pace of innovation, and ultimately, fueling the growth behind our forthcoming service has been an incredible opportunity,” Distad said. “We searched for people with an entrepreneurial spirit who could bring diverse perspectives to Venu Sports with experience launching beloved consumer products and growing high-performing teams, and brought together a group of all-stars in their respective fields with: Brian, Jessica, Tim, Amit, Skarpi, David, Gautam, and Judy.” 

Reporting to Distad, the team will include: 

Brian Borkowski, Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for marketing, branding and growth strategies to launch and grow Venu Sports. Brian previously worked at FanDuel, where he led marketing for the online gambling company. Before FanDuel, Borkowski held multiple roles at Hulu, including VP Media and Acquisition and Head of Subscriber Acquisition. Prior to that, he was the chief marketing officer of the predictive analytics startup Verikai. He has also held various marketing leadership roles at Neilson Financial Services and Farmers Insurance.

Jessica Casano-Antonellis, Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, leading all communications facets for Venu Sports. Jessica previously led communications at SiriusXM. Prior to SiriusXM, Jessica served as Vice President, Communications for Disney+ and Hulu at The Walt Disney Company, overseeing global communications strategies for the company’s streaming initiatives, including the launch and rapid global rollout of Disney’s flagship streaming service.

Tim Connolly, Chief Business Officer, responsible for steering the strategic initiatives for the upcoming sports streaming platform, including content rights and licensing, distribution and strategic partnerships, business development, subscriber growth, and retention strategies. Prior to joining Venu, Tim led subscriber growth for Apple TV+ and MLS Season Pass at Apple, and also held senior leadership positions at Hulu, and The Walt Disney Company. 

Amit Dudakia, Senior Vice President and Head of Product, responsible for all facets of product management and design, along with programming and editorial for the service. Amit previously held various product leadership roles across Fox Corporation and its portfolio of leading entertainment brands, most recently serving as SVP of Product Management for Fox Technology & Digital, where he led the product and design organization for Fox Sports. Amit’s time with Fox Corp. began with FX Networks, where was a key member of the launch team behind FX NOW, Simpsons World, and FX+. 

Skarpi Hedinsson, Chief Technology Officer, responsible for the technology strategy and execution for the sports streaming service, including building out a world-class team of technologists. Prior to joining Venu, Skarpi was the CTO of the Los Angeles Rams and led the team responsible for the vision, design and implementation of technology throughout Hollywood Park, which includes SoFi Stadium, one of the country’s most technologically advanced stadiums. Prior to joining the Rams, Skarpi served as the CTO, Disney/ABC Television Group during a critical period of innovation, which included the launch of the WATCH ABC and WATCH Disney services. 

David Hillman, Chief Legal Officer, overseeing all legal matters for Venu Sports. Prior to joining Venu, David was a key member of the corporate legal executive management team at Paramount Global, where he most recently served as EVP and General Counsel for CBS Sports, CBS News and Stations and Broadcast Operations. As part of his remit, David oversaw negotiations of key strategic content agreements with programming partners, sports leagues and talent. Before joining CBS, David held the position of EVP and General Counsel at both Simon & Schuster and Westwood One.

Gautam Ranji, Chief Financial Officer and will oversee all aspects of the financial operations for the sports venture. Prior to joining Venu, Gautam served as CFO and Treasurer for Sphere Entertainment, where he led all finance functions and was part of the management team which launched the Sphere in Las Vegas. Previously, Gautam held senior leadership positions at CBS, where he oversaw strategic planning and business development, and co-led the merger integration following the combination of Viacom and CBS (now Paramount Global). He has also held senior posts at the Hearst Corporation and Viacom. 

Judy Schwab, Senior Vice President and Head of People, overseeing all aspects of Venu Sports’ People strategy and operations, including workforce planning, organizational effectiveness, talent acquisition, talent management and development, and total rewards, as well as the Company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts. Prior to joining Venu, she served as an HR leader within Apple’s Services division. Prior to Apple, Judy led HR for The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer businesses, including ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu, serving as a key member of the executive leadership team that launched Disney+ and integrated Hulu. 

In addition to the Venu Sports management team, there are currently over 150 engineers and executives dedicated to building the Venu product, which aims to serve sports fans outside of the traditional TV bundle.

About Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 30 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and as a freelance professional. His PR clients have included Wizard World and FAN EXPO, which produce pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America, USA Wrestling, the National Lacrosse League, Strat-O-Matic Media, the Pacific Life Open and Pilot Pen Tennis tournaments and dozens of others. Milani is also the director of athletic communications for Caldwell University. He is a proud graduate of North Rockland High School and Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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