Thursday, August 11, 2022

Meow Wolf names Jose Tolosa, formerly of ViacomCBS, as CEO

Meow Wolf, the US-based arts and entertainment company, announced it will welcome a new CEO, Jose Tolosa, formerly of ViacomCBS. Tolosa brings with him 25 years of experience in emerging industries and will be focused on continuing Meow Wolf’s expansion and growth.

Tolosa joined Viacom in 2008 and held various roles over his 14-year career at the company and its successor ViacomCBS. During his time at Viacom, he spent close to 10 years focused on the international business, where he ultimately became Chief Operating Officer in early 2015. In 2017, Tolosa transitioned to become Chief Transformation Officer where he directed Viacom’s transformation strategy and since 2019, he led the integration process for the Viacom and CBS merger and was tasked with driving the evolution of its businesses and overseeing its global workplace strategy. ViacomCBS is a Fortune 200 entertainment conglomerate that comprises CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount, as well as BET, Comedy Central, VH1, and Smithsonian. Tolosa’s unique skill set of integrating and inspiring employees via a people-first mentality and commitment to diversity, equity and belonging has had a proven success record and will be critical to Meow Wolf’s expansion in the future. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Tolosa is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Georgetown University.

Gas Station in Projected Desert at Omega Mart, Meow Wolf’s Las Vegas location. Photo credit: Kate Russell / Courtesy of Meow Wolf

“Meow Wolf has imagination at its core,” said Tolosa. “It is not only poised to impact communities and artists, as it has already proven, but to change the way people think and experience the world around them. This unique and pivotal moment in the company’s history is an opportunity to seek sustainable, thoughtful growth, expanding our exhibitions and engaging beyond the four walls. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to become a part of such a fantastic organization and I look forward to working with the talented Meow Wolf team.”

InPark Magazine Editor Judith Rubin got the chance to hear from Meow Wolf Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director Corvas Brinkerhoff to discuss the company’s special blend of artistic exploration and business acumen.

Tolosa takes over the role from co-CEOs Carl Christensen, Ali Rubinstein and Jim Ward, who became interim Co-CEOs in October 2019. Ward, originally Chief Content Officer, stepped down as Co-CEO in 2021 and remains an advisor to the company. Christensen and Rubinstein will return to their original roles as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Creative Officer, respectively. Christensen and Rubinstein are excited for the opportunity to work with Tolosa, as they return to focusing on the roles for which they originally joined Meow Wolf and lean into what they do best, Rubinstein leading Creative & Exhibitions Division and Christensen, Finance and Accounting.

“Ali, Carl and Jim have been instrumental in building Meow Wolf into a strong, strategic business for the past two years and we could not be more grateful for their leadership,” said Christopher Sobecki, chairman of Meow Wolf’s board. “We are excited for the new focus Jose will bring to the company as we continue to take Meow Wolf into new dimensions.”

Numina at Convergence Station, Meow Wolf’s Denver location. Photo credit: Jess Bernstein / Courtesy of Meow Wolf.

2021 marked a high growth year for Meow Wolf with two new permanent installations, Omega Mart, opening in February in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Convergence Station opening in September in Denver, Colorado. In addition to upgrading and reopening its original installation, House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Meow Wolf welcomed over 1,700,000 visitors across the three locations. The company is now home to nearly 1,000 employees, hiring over 600 new team members in 2021. It renewed its certification as a B-Corporation, growing a team dedicated to positive social impact and building a more inclusive and sustainable society through art and creativity. The company plans to continue hiring across all locations, with Santa Fe remaining as its creative headquarters.

“Meow Wolf’s mission continues to be inspiring creativity through art, exploration and play so that imagination can change the world,” said Rubinstein. “2021 proved this is possible and set the stage for what is to come. We are ready to create more and inspire more, and we believe Jose will guide this effort beautifully.”

“We remain a social impact art project fueling a business and a business fueling a social impact art project,” said Christensen. “As we grow, we’ll keep our eyes on this fact, and maintain this essential part of ourselves as a company by constant examination of what we are putting into the world and how it is experienced. We are thrilled to have Jose join us as we accelerate the evolution of Meow Wolf.”

Meow Wolf was founded by Vince Kadlubek, Caity Kennedy, Corvas Brinkerhoff, Emily Montoya, Matt King, and Sean Di Ianni in 2008.

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