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Roku Shares Slide as CFO Steve Louden Plans to Step Down From Video Streaming Group

Roku CFO Steven Louden, who guided the video-streaming service through a successful 2017 IPO and a staggering 330% year-to-date gain, will step down next year.

Roku Inc.  (ROKU) - Get Roku Inc. Report shares were indicated lower in pre-market trading Tuesday after the video streaming service said its chief financial officer would step down after nearly five years with the group.

Steve Louden, who joined Roku in 2015, will leave the streaming company next year, the company said, but plans to stay on to assist with is transition to a new CFO before returning to his native Seattle. Louden, 47, has been largely credited with  not only the Los Gatos, California-based group's rapid growth since is 2017 IPO, but also his ability to argue the company's complex financial and business metrics to investors in a market that is seeing intense competition from much larger rivals including Amazon, Apple and Disney. 

“Steve has been a valuable member of our leadership team. He managed our finances through our transition to a public company and rapid expansion into new areas of streaming,” said CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Steve during the transition as we hire our next CFO and continue to execute our strategy and build value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”  

Roku shares were marked 2% lower in early Tuesday trading to change hands at  $135.42 each, a move that would still leave the shares with a staggering 340% year-to-date gain and a market value of around $15.8 billion. 

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Roku shares have seen more modest gains over the past month, however, amid the launch of Apple's  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report Apple TV+ streaming video service, which went live last week with a limited roster of shows, for $4.99 per month, as well as the Walt Disney's  (DIS) - Get The Walt Disney Company Report own Disney+ offering that has attracted more than 10 million subscribers in its opening weeks.

Louden recently pushed the case for Roku as an "essential" streaming service in an interview with TheStreet's Tiernan Ray, arguing it's "a natural place for them to go build new audiences."

"People are now incentivized to come to the platform because of Disney+ or Apple+, and we capture more video on the platform," Louden said. Viewers who initially come looking for Netflix on Roku, for example, see their viewership "broaden" from there to other content.

"It's all good for us," he said of the expansion of competing offerings.

 Louden also said the main metric for Roku investors to watch is "monetized video ad impressions." Roku doesn't actually reveal the number for that metric, but it comments qualitatively about it. They more than doubled again this quarter, Louden said. "That's a measure of how fast our piece of those impressions are moving over" from linear TV. The figure continues to grow faster than Roku's total number of streaming hours watched or active account growth, he said.