Tech Moves

Social TV platform Scener provides Hulu’s David Baron as CEO and filmmaker J.J. Abrams as investor

David Baron, CEO at Scener. (Photo via Scener)

Scener, the Seattle-based startup that adds a social layer to the viewing of streaming television content, has named David Baron as CEO. Baron helped launch Hulu in 2007 and spent 14 years at that streaming service.

The company also announced a new team of investors and advisors, including J.J. Abrams, the filmmaker and producer, as well as Sean Rad, Tinder founder and investor, and Marc Geiger a Lollapalooza co-founder and former head of music for WME. Entrepreneur Richard Wolpert is joining Scener as executive chairman.

Scener was spun out of RealNetworks in 2018 and raised $2.1 million in seed funding in 2020, with backing from Seattle-based SeaChange along with Glaser Investments, the fund run by RealNetworks founder and CEO Rob Glaser.

“Scener has solved the puzzle of the social viewing experience for streaming services and is uniquely positioned for even more growth ahead,” Baron said in a news release. His hiring was first reported by Deadline.

“The streaming industry is also at a dramatic inflection point,” he added. “Consumers are now demanding both simplicity and social connection in their viewing experiences. Imagine having a service in the cloud that provides access to all of your streaming entertainment options, is natively social and is portable across all devices, all without an additional hardware device or dongle — this is the future of social viewing and content discovery.”

Scener turns TV viewing into social watch parties. (Scener Image)

Scener uses a free Google Chrome extension and its Watch Party Platform allows anyone to host a screening with up to 10 co-hosts on video chat and up to 1 million viewers. As more streaming providers experiment with their own co-watching features — Netflix has “Netflix Party” and Disney+ has “GroupWatch” — Scener was an early innovator and supports playback on at least 10 major streaming services, including the aforementioned as well as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube.

Baron helped build Hulu’s content distribution businesses including Hulu + LiveTV, and he managed thousands of content providers. Prior to that he was a VP at Fox Digital Media and Paramount Digital Entertainment and he spent three years at Microsoft as the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant’s entertainment industry liaison in the mid-1990s.

Baron will lead Scener’s next growth phase, which will include scaling the team, launching a new mobile product and prepping for a Series A funding round.

GeekWire reported last week that Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood departed the startup to join San Diego-based Vektor Medical. Braidwood will help that 4-year old company establish a new subsidiary business out of its Bellevue, Wash. offices.

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