More Shakeups at Spotify’s Podcast Unit — Max Cutler Departing Just Weeks After Dawn Ostroff’s Exit

podcast division shakeup Max Cutler
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podcast division shakeup Max Cutler
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Photo Credit: Einaz Asadi

More shakeups are headed for Spotify’s podcast division after Dawn Ostroff’s departure. Max Cutler, Head of Audio Talk Shows & partnerships is departing to start a new venture.

According to a company memo obtained by Bloomberg, Cutler will depart his position on May 1. That closely follows the departure of Dawn Ostroff, who oversaw content and advertising for Spotify’s podcast division and is credited with bringing Joe Rogan to the platform. Spotify says the podcast division will reorganize further after Cutler’s May 1 departure.

No details about Cutler’s new venture were released, but Cutler notes he believes the “future is bright at Spotify.” Max Cutler joined Spotify after it acquired the Parcast network in 2019 for $55 million. While at Spotify, Cutler helped oversee deals and partnerships like those established with Joe Rogan and Emma Chamberlain and Alex Cooper.

“With the traditional media industry ripe for disruption, I am excited to take on this new challenge and drive innovation forward,” Cutler says in the memo. “I am deeply grateful to Daniel, Alex, and Sahar for their unwavering support of my decision to return to my entrepreneurial roots as I embark on this next chapter.

Digital Music News has reported on the slimming down of Spotify’s podcast ambitions since late 2022. In November of that year, Spotify canceled 11 new podcasts and laid off around 40 people who worked on those shows.

Now with Max Cutler officially departing, Julie McNamara will supervise licensed exclusives as well. Bryan Thoensen will oversee content partnerships with third-party creators. Thoensen joined Spotify last year after departing TikTok.

Spotify’s big gamble on podcasts hasn’t really paid off so far, which CEO Daniel Ek acknowledges. He says he believes the $1 billion+ spend on acquiring podcast talent and technology was the right move, but admits the company “probably got a little carried away and over-invested relative to the uncertainty [Spotify] saw shaping up in the market.”

The podcasting vertical isn’t the success Spotify thought it would be in 2019, so now it’s slimming down. Gimlet Co-Founder Alex Blumberg also quietly departed in 2022 following the spate of canceled shows.