News Corp. has just announced that Ryan O’Hara will become the new CEO of Move, Inc. (operator of realtor.com), replacing Steve Berkowitz after six years, effective January 5, 2015.
In October, Berkowitz told us that he was very secure in his position as CEO, and in November, the company asserted that there were no pending changes, but as is common when a company is acquired, the torch is, in fact, being passed.
“We are excited to have secured Ryan O’Hara to take the helm at Move, given his record of transforming businesses in the digital age and his clear determination to accelerate the growth of the company. We are also extremely grateful to Steve Berkowitz for his years of astute and principled leadership, during which period he secured greater operating flexibility for the business and put the company on a solid growth trajectory,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.
Thomson added, “Ryan’s experience in the digital media and entertainment industry and his deft management skills will be invaluable assets as we pursue the rapid expansion of Move in this era of exponential change. We believe he has the ability to leverage the relationship with our existing US media properties to the benefit of all and to make the most of the significant expertise at REA, our majority-owned, notably successful and still growing digital property site in Australia.”
“Ryan will begin at Move in the first week of January, when we will also be rolling out a broad-based marketing campaign across The Wall Street Journal Digital Network to drive quality traffic to realtor.com®,” said Thomson. “He also looks forward to working closely with the National Association of Realtors®, a key and crucial partner of Move, knowing that Realtors® are at the heart of American real estate transactions.”
A bit about the new CEO
We have not yet spoken to the next CEO, but will update you as we do. For now, the following is the background offered by News Corp. in a press statement:
“Mr. O’Hara most recently served as a President at the Madison Square Garden Company, leading the MSG Media, technology and marketing partnership divisions. He previously was President and CEO of The Topps Company, a leading entertainment trading card and consumer products business. During his time at Topps, Mr. O’Hara grew market share, formed key partnerships with major sports leagues and player associations, and expanded the business digitally and globally.
Before Topps, Mr. O’Hara was with several News Corporation businesses, including Gemstar TV Guide International/TV Guide Company from 2002 to 2010, the last five years as President of the TV Guide network and several digital businesses. He led the TV Guide network’s transformation from a utility guide to a full-screen entertainment destination and significantly increased its distribution. Between 1999 and 2002, he worked at Fox Cable Networks in Los Angeles and BSkyB in London. Mr. O’Hara holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.”
O’Hara said in the same statement, “Love of real estate runs in my family, with my grandfather and uncle having long, successful careers as real estate brokers, and a cousin is currently a Realtor® and member of the National Association of Realtors®. And while in college, I gained a California real estate salesperson license. I’m thrilled to have a chance to run this exciting digital real estate business, particularly given its deep connection to Realtors® around the country.”
Berkowitz weighs in
“I believe Move is well-positioned for the future, with many good people whom I’ve been honored to work with these past six years. I’m grateful for all we accomplished together and I leave secure in the knowledge that great things are in store for them and Move,” said Mr. Berkowitz.
Remember, in these types of situations, naming a new CEO is pretty standard, and the former CEO isn’t pink slipped in a nasty way, rather they exit with compensation. Watch for Berkowitz to emerge in other high profile positions in coming years.