ADOTAS – It’s official: Steven Swartz will succeed Frank Bennack, Jr. as the new CEO of Hearst Corporation effective June 1, 2013. Swartz, who was named the company’s president only last December, is being elevated at a pivotal time for the media industry, facing a digital transition that is transforming much of the business.
Sources tell Adotas that Swartz (above), 51, has been groomed for the role over the last several years and has been working closely with Bennack on building the future of Hearst, expanding its portfolio of diverse media and information businesses around the globe. Prior to his promotion to COO in 2011, Swartz served as senior vice president of the Corporation and president of Hearst Newspapers.
Bennack will continue to serve as executive vice chairman of the Hearst Board of Directors and chairman of the Corporation’s Executive Committee and will remain active in the affairs of the company he has served for more than 50 years. His combined 28-year tenure leading the 126-year-old company is the longest of any chief executive other than William Randolph Hearst himself.
“The Hearst Board is profoundly grateful for the accomplishments of Frank Bennack and we believe his legacy will continue with Steve as his successor,” the Hearst Corporation issued in a statement. “Since Frank first stepped into the role of CEO in 1979, Hearst has seen unparalleled growth: 90 percent of the businesses we are in today did not exist or were not part of our company when his tenure began. Steve has all the talent, insight and experience to lead the company forward. We also have the benefit of Frank remaining as executive vice chairman of the Board and we trust he will remain deeply involved in our corporate and foundation activities.”
With a reputation for being one of the industry’s most stable publishing powerhouses, Hearst has solidified its position as the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies, owning 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers as well as hundreds of magazines around the world, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and O, The Oprah Magazine. Hearst also owns 29 television stations, which reach a combined 18 percent of U.S. viewers and has ownership in leading cable networks including Lifetime, A&E, The History Channel and ESPN.
Last week, Bennack (below left) sent the following note to his employees announcing the change in leadership:
Today, I want to share some important news about the future leadership of our company.
After a combined 28 years leading this great organization, I am passing the baton to Steven Swartz, who will become chief executive officer on June 1, 2013.
Many of you know Steve from his varied roles with the company during the past 20 years. In 1991, he was the founding editor of SmartMoney, our venture with Dow Jones, and eventually went on to run our Newspapers division in 2008. Steve was appointed chief operating officer in 2011, and assumed the role of president last year.
Steve has exactly the kind of breadth that a company like ours needs: expertise in both editorial and business roles. He not only brings great energy and vision to the job, he has established himself as a visible and respected executive in media, advertising and the civic communities that are important to Hearst. He has fulfilled my expectations and those of the Board, and we are confident in his abilities to lead our company into the future.
I will continue serving Hearst Corporation as executive vice chairman of the Board of Directors and chairman of the Executive Committee.
As we transition to a new CEO—only the seventh in our company’s 126-year-history—I must again thank our Board and trustees, and you, my colleagues, for transforming a company that began as a single newspaper into one of the great “startups” that continues to reinvent itself in media, entertainment and information around the world.
The press release announcing this news is below and will be issued shortly.
All good wishes,
Frank A. Bennack, Jr.