Three executives key to Meta’s sports-related efforts are leaving the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Rob Shaw, Kevin Cote and Dev Sethi are all exiting, the person said, in addition to more junior staffers.
Shaw confirmed his departure Wednesday in a LinkedIn post. “After more than nine years at Meta, most recently as the head of global sports media partnerships,” Shaw wrote, “I will be leaving the company as a part of the most recent #metalayoffs.”
Shaw held several sports-related positions while at Meta and Facebook, while Cote was director of sports partnerships, and Sethi handled sports creator and college athlete partnerships. Shaw and Cote had been with the social giant since 2014 and 2015, respectively. Their responsibilities included managing Meta’s relationships with athletes, leagues and media partners. In recent years, that has meant evangelizing products ranging from Instagram to virtual reality, and getting sports stakeholders, from star Olympians to the world’s biggest soccer clubs, using various elements of its platforms.
Meta began executing the last round of a three-part layoff process on Wednesday. Once completed, the company is expected to have laid off more than 20,000 employees dating back to the fall.
Representatives from Meta declined to comment by press time.
The sports-related departures follow other notable losses in that division for Mark Zuckerberg’s company. Peter Hutton, the ex-global head of media partnerships, reportedly parted ways in November, along with regional heads for media partnerships in Asia Pacific, EMEA and Latin America. Former global sports programming lead and head of international content strategy Rhys Beer is also no longer at the company. Entertainment-focused executives will likely carry more of the sports-connected responsibilities going forward.
Five years ago, Facebook was among the tech titans bidding on exclusive sports streaming rights, including landing one deal for 25 MLB games. It also aired select Champions League matches during the 2017-18 season and was linked to bids for additional MLS, NBA G League, college football and cricket live content. In some cases, Facebook also paid athletes and franchises directly to create live video for the platform.
After deciding not to bid for certain rights renewals, Shaw wrote in 2021, “We still have excellent partnerships with these leagues, but the reality is that traditional media rights deals like these aren’t compatible with our current video business model.”
Dan Reed, who was Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships from June 2018 until early 2022, last year moved to become the COO of Reality Labs, Meta’s AR and VR division, in a sign of how priorities have evolved at the company.
Sports partnerships have been a part of that transition, too. The NFL and Meta announced a deal to bring league IP into the metaverse last year, and this year Meta and the NBA teamed up to air 50 games in virtual reality.
More recently, Meta has been among the companies signaling an increased investment in artificial intelligence-related work.
(This article has been updated to include a statement from Rob Shaw in the third paragraph.)