Hearst Corp. has named Steven R. Swartz, president and chief operating officer. He will succeed Frank A. Bennack, Jr., as chief executive officer, effective June 1. Bennack will continue to serve as executive vice chairman of the Hearst board of directors and chairman of the corporation’s executive committee.
Bennack will remain active in the affairs of the company he has served for more than 50 years. In addition to his role on the Board and as chairman of the Executive Committee, he remains a trustee of the trust established under the will of William Randolph Hearst and a member of numerous corporate committees and the Hearst Foundations boards, where he has served for more than 35 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,” Hearst said. “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.”
Swartz was named president in December 2012, after being named COO in March 2011, and has been working closely with Bennack on building the future of Hearst, expanding its stable of diverse media and information businesses around the globe. He is a director of Hearst Corp., a trustee of the trust established under the will of William Randolph Hearst and a director of the two Hearst Foundations. Before his promotion to COO, Swartz was senior vice president of the corporation and president of Hearst Newspapers. In that role, he oversaw Hearst’s 15 daily newspapers, dozens of weekly papers and digital marketing services company LocalEdge.
“Steve has dedicated himself to our company for more than 20 years and during the past two years we have been working side-by-side to position Hearst for our next 100 years,” Bennack said. “I speak on behalf of the entire board of directors when I say we have the utmost confidence in Steve stepping into the role of CEO in June and leading Hearst into a strong future of successful media and information businesses and brands around the globe. I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure that future in my role on the board and various executive committees.”
“What Frank Bennack has built over the past 30 years is remarkable,” Swartz said. “I look forward to working with Frank, our Board and our 20,000 colleagues worldwide to continue this path of growth, innovation and diversification.”
Bennack has directed the company through an unprecedented period of growth since he began his first tenure as CEO in 1979, increasing revenues 12 times and growing earnings more than 30 times what they had been, through investments, acquisitions and startups. Today, Hearst is one of the nation’s largest private companies engaged in a broad range of publishing, broadcasting, cable networking, digital and diversified communications and information activities with some 200 separate businesses and 20,000 employees.
Under his leadership, the company launched three leading cable networks with ABC, A&E, HISTORY and Lifetime, and invested in the ESPN family of networks, now in 190 countries and territories. On Bennack’s watch, Hearst has marched toward diversification and global expansion, including its nearly $1 billion acquisition in 2011 of Lagardère’s 100 international titles outside of France, its purchase of healthcare information leader Milliman Care Guidelines LLC, its acquisition of a 50 percent interest in global ratings agency Fitch Group, its establishment of a joint venture with television producer Mark Burnett and its creation of a home office in Beijing. Bennack was also instrumental in the decision to create what today is Hearst Television Inc., one of the nation’s largest non-network owned television station groups, which operates 29 television stations.
Prior to his role as chief executive, Bennack served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the corporation and, prior to that, as vice president and general manager of Hearst Newspapers. He also served in a variety of management posts, including a seven-year tenure (1967 to 1974) as publisher and editor of the San Antonio Light.
Swartz was president of Hearst Newspapers Division from 2009 to 2011 and executive vice president from 2001 to 2008. Prior to joining Hearst directly in 2001, Swartz was president and chief executive of SmartMoney, the magazine, website and custom publishing business launched by Hearst and News Corp.’s Dow Jones unit. Swartz had been the magazine’s founding editor since 1991. SmartMoney magazine won two National Magazine Awards under his leadership and was Advertising Age‘s Magazine of the Year.
Swartz began his journalism career as a reporter with the Wall Street Journal in 1984 after graduating from Harvard. He served as an editor on the Journal‘s Page One staff from 1989 to 1991.