YouTube gaming chief Leo Olebe was among 100 staff laid off this week

When Google’s YouTube video division confirmed 100 layoffs on Wednesday, Leo Olebe, who was head of YouTube Gaming, was among those let go.

Olebe was a longtime gaming executive who had also done stints at Facebook (Meta), where he was senior global director for game partnerships. He was laid off among 100 other employees at the video platform as part of a larger restructuring at Google that included more than 1,000 other layoffs.

He was also vice president of marketing at GreatSchools, senior director product marketing at Zynga, vice president of marketing at Gazillion Entertainment, and he also did stints at Kabam, BioWare, Vivendi, Webzen, Warner Bros., and Disney.

The New York Times said that YouTube had 7,173 people earlier this week. Evidently there will be no one in charge of gaming at YouTube anymore. We confirmed Olebe’s layoff with multiple sources, and we’re waiting for official comment from YouTube/Google.

I’ve embedded a video where I interviewed Olebe and Google Play’s Moonlit Beshimov about their frustrations of a lack of diversity in the game industry and the urgency behind making the game industry more emotionally intelligent.

Dean Takahashi (left), Lual Mayen, and Leo Olebe speak about diversity at GamesBeat/Facebook: Driving Game Growth.

The first task is to recognize the problem and to have hard conversations about it, said Olebe while speaking on a panel at our GamesBeat Summit 2023 event. A big part of the problem is that the game industry isn’t diverse enough, he said. Based on the global acceptance of games, gaming should be the most globally diverse industry. But it’s not. Olebe’s concern was that as the game industry rose from subculture to mass culture, some of the bad artifacts of the subculture — like the lack of diversity — would rise with it.

While layoffs are a big concern in the game industry now, there are a lot of other jobs being impacted related to games at the platform companies, as we can see with the elimination of Olebe’s post.

During Olebe’s tenure, YouTube re-signed leading gaming creators like Ludwig, Courage and Valkyrae. It also broke records with the Grand Theft Auto VI trailer’s release — hitting 93 million views in a day. YouTube launched Playables. And it saw huge views for LoL Worlds and The Game Awards. And it hit 100 billion views for Mario.

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