Brandon Doerrer
Apr 19, 2024

Whalar Group appoints Neil Waller and James Street as co-CEOs

EXCLUSIVE: The duo will lead six business pillars and attempt to win more creative, not just creator, briefs with the hire of Christoph Becker as chief creative officer.

(L-R) Neil Waller and James Street. (Photo credit: Kat Nijmeddin / @nijmeddin, used with permission)
(L-R) Neil Waller and James Street. (Photo credit: Kat Nijmeddin / @nijmeddin, used with permission)

Whalar Group has appointed cofounders Neil Waller and James Street as co-CEOs, it announced on Thursday.

Robert Horler will transition to an advisory position on Whalar’s board of directors, effective May 1. He has served as CEO of the creator marketing company’s brand partnerships agency since January 2021.

Waller and Street ran the agency before Horler’s appointment but stepped back to focus on building other parts of the company without bearing the weight of a CEO’s responsibilities, such as handling internal communications and managing operations, Waller said. Now that Whalar Group has established six core divisions, the duo feels ready to lead the entire company again.

Street will oversee Whalar’s talent management company, venture studio Moby Ventures and Fortnite development arm Umi Games. Waller will lead the brand partnerships agency, digital operating system Foam and the company's latest endeavor: A series of physical campuses for instructing creators called The Lighthouse. Campuses are opening in Venice, California, and Brooklyn, New York, this year and in London next year.

As Waller put it, Street will anticipate future pivots in the creator marketing economy while he addresses more immediate needs.

“James builds 24 months out,” Waller said. “He builds stuff into the future of the creator space…I’m the zero to 12-month guy.”

While Horler led the brand partnerships agency, Waller and Street have been leading and building the other five divisions, effectively operating as CEOs of those arms. Over the past six months, Waller has gradually taken on Horler’s responsibilities, allowing him and Street to step back up as co-CEOs of the entire Whalar Group.

“It feels like the right time to step back in and bring them all together under one umbrella,” Street said. “Neil and I are a bit more mature and know a lot more about different spaces that we can then pull under this larger creator economy umbrella.”

Most of Whalar Group’s business stems from its brand partnerships agency and talent management operation, he said.

Whalar Group has about 300 employees globally, around half of which are based in the US.

As Waller and Street take a more active role in leading Whalar Group, they aim to win more creative, not just creator, accounts.

Whalar often receives creator briefs from the creative agencies that brands are working with directly, Street said. But given the company’s size, he feels it’s ready to take on more accounts that include creative directly from brands.

To compete with creative shops, Whalar Group hired Christoph Becker as its first chief creative officer two months ago. Reporting to Waller and Street, he will oversee 35 employees working across global strategy, measurement, marketing and creative services.

He previously ran communications advisory firm Aqqabba since June 2023. Before that, he served as global chair of integration at Edelman beginning in June 2021.

In his new role, Becker plans to rely on the creative prowess of the many creators Whalar partners with.

“We have the luxury that we co-create with the most creative minds that are relevantly connected to the communities that are going to drive the future of this business,” he said

Source:
Campaign US

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