Spotify Podcast Reorg: Max Cutler to Exit, Julie McNamara to Assume Oversight of Licensed Exclusives Including With Joe Rogan

Max Cutler, one of Spotify’s most senior podcast execs, is departing the streamer after nearly four years with the company.

Cutler, who has served as Spotify’s VP, head of talk creator content and partnerships, will be leaving the company to “return his entrepreneurial roots” and form a start-up venture, according to a source close to Spotify. He had joined Spotify in 2019 with its acquisition of Parcast, the scripted podcast studio he co-founded. Cutler will remain at Spotify until May 1.

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In the role, Cutler had overseen Spotify’s exclusive licensed podcast deals with partners including Joe Rogan, Alex Cooper (“Call Her Daddy”) and Emma Chamberlain. With Cutler’s exit, Spotify head of global podcast studios Julie McNamara is assuming leadership of licensed podcast exclusives.

McNamara reports to Sahar Elhabashi, head of Spotify’s podcast business who joined the company in 2018, who in turn reports up to co-president Alex Norström. The changes come after the exit of Dawn Ostroff, chief content and advertising business officer — who had previously headed Spotify’s podcast business — as part of a senior management shakeup last month.

In another change, Bill Simmons, founder of The Ringer (which Spotify bought in 2020), will now report to Elhabashi, and in addition to continuing to lead The Ringer, will now be responsible for developing and growing podcast monetization across Spotify’s portfolio.

Bryan Thoensen, who joined Spotify from TikTok last fall as senior director and head of content partnerships and community, will continue to oversee content partnerships for third-party creators and he will be expanding those efforts and that team. Thoensen, who previously reported to Cutler, now also reports to Elhabashi.

According to Spotify, there are no layoffs connected to the latest management changes.

In January, Spotify announced that it was cutting 6% of its headcount, laying off about 600 employees. CEO Daniel Ek, on the company’s Q4 earnings call, noted, “In 2021, we said that 2022 would be an investment year, and it was. And in light of our recent news on cost and staff reductions, I’m sure some of you are wondering if we believe that, that investment was a mistake.” He continued, “I probably got a little carried away and overinvested relative to the uncertainty we saw shaping up in the market. So, we are shifting to focus on tightening our spend and becoming more efficient.”

Ek emphasized the restructuring and cost-cutting moves don’t indicate that Spotify is changing its strategy. The executive reorg was designed to speed up decision-making and to let management look at Spotify’s operations “holistically,” according to Ek. The management changes, including Ostroff’s exit, “really had nothing to do with the strategy around podcasting,” he told analysts.

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