Anthony Padilla is leaving Smosh after over a decade of crafting one of YouTube’s most popular channels with partner-in-crime Ian Hecox.
Padilla, 29, told Variety he was looking to start something fresh after several months of contemplating his departure. “I realized I haven’t been as creatively excited about things recently,” he said. “When I first started, it was just me being excited about creating things. It wasn’t about numbers.”
One of the biggest reasons the Internet superstar wanted to move on is because Smosh is part of a larger media company, Defy Media. All of the duo’s creative decisions have to be vetted and approved by others.
Padilla and Hecox uploaded their first YouTube video as Smosh in 2005 and have since remained one of the video platform’s most popular acts. They reigned supreme as YouTube’s most subscribed channel three times: from May 2006 to June 2006, April 2007 to September 2008, and January 2013 to August 2013. The channel currently sits at over 22.6 million subscribers.
So how did Padilla break the news to Hecox, whom he befriended in the sixth grade? “I think he kind of knew, based on his intuition,” Padilla explained. “It was so tough to tell him this thing we made together was going to change now. But he was very supportive. He understood where I was coming from.”
The decision comes just months after Defy Media chief content officer Barry Blumberg’s departure. Padilla and Blumberg had worked together since 2006, but Padilla insists the timing is a coincidence.
The Smosh creator isn’t going to stop making videos anytime soon. He plans to operate solo on his own YouTube channel, which currently entertains 1.4 million subscribers.
“People maybe know me for comedy,” he said. “That will be there, but I’m going to do a lot of different things.” Padilla will keep working on vlogs and sketches, but also wants to “open up about some things in my life, and hopefully [be] able to relate to fans in a way they haven’t seen me do on YouTube before.”
Padilla’s first solo video will premiere on June 19 with new videos scheduled every Monday and Friday. He also wants to break into television writing and voice acting, but has a big task ahead of him winning over fans urging him to go back to Smosh: “If I went back, it wouldn’t be the same.”
From 2005 to 2017, Smosh has amassed over 6.3 billion total views across all their main channel videos.