July 14, 2014, 3:05 PM

Wal-Mart hires a Vudu practitioner

The retailing behemoth is hoping Jeremy Verba, with his long tech resume and Harvard MBA, can work some magic as vice president of Vudu, Wal-Mart’s digital movie service.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has big aspirations when it comes to technology, recently opening its second office in Silicon Valley. Today, the retailer announced it has hired Jeremy Verba to serve as vice president and general manager of the company’s Vudu unit.

Vudu is a digital video on-demand service akin to iTunes, where a consumer can rent or purchase movies and TV shows a la carte as opposed to paying a monthly fee to stream movies, as is the case with Netflix. Consumers watch Vudu content on smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and PCs.

Verba has an impressive technology resume filled with big names: president and founder of E! Online (an offshoot of the entertainment cable television channel), general manager at social/mobile game maker Zynga, general manager at AOL, and, most recently, CEO of dating web site eHarmony. He also has served as an advisor to several technology start-ups, and holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard.

“Wal-Mart isn’t a retailer in Silicon Valley, we’re building an Internet technology company inside the world’s largest retailer,” a Wal-Mart spokesman says. “To accomplish this, we’ve recruited a best-in-class team of consumer Internet leaders through acquisitions—13 and counting—and organic hiring.”

Verba will report to Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital, Wal-Mart global e-commerce. Verba is responsible for continuing to drive adoption of Vudu, the merchant says.

“His deep Internet experience with a focus on strategy, business development and product innovation will be instrumental in taking Vudu to the next level,” the spokesman says.

Vudu’s primary online competitors, retailers that sell and rent digital video rather than offer subscriptions, include Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc. Other competitors include cable television companies, such as Comcast and AT&T, that have begun selling video content through their television services and on smart TVs.

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