A little more than 10 months after stepping down as the head of CNN, Jeff Zucker is back in the media business, and he’s got $1 billion of capital to invest.
On Tuesday, Zucker was named the CEO of RedBird IMI, a new joint venture powered by Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners and International Media Investments (IMI), an Abu Dhabi-based holding company. In his new role, Zucker will be charged with building, buying and investing in sports, media and entertainment entities on a global scale.
Zucker most recently served as the CEO of CNN (a post he held for 10 years), and he also spearheaded the Turner Sports unit from 2019 until February of this year. Before his stint at Turner, Zucker put in 25 years at NBCUniversal, a period that included a four-year stretch as CEO.
He left NBCU in 2011, shortly after Comcast acquired a $13.8 billion majority stake in the media company. Comcast completed its takeover two years later, at which point Zucker had joined CNN.
In a statement released this morning, Zucker indicated that his 35 years in the business has given him an “unparalleled perspective for this unique time in media,” and “the combination of the RedBird and IMI capital and strategic discipline, combined with my operational experience, will give this joint venture a unique advantage in the current media landscape.”
Zucker is also joining RedBird as an operating partner.
RedBird’s various sports-related ventures include a minority stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club, and an interest in LeBron James’ SpringHill Co.
“We are very pleased to partner with IMI to create a long-term, fully capitalized investment vehicle that can own and operate content-focused businesses across the media spectrum in the US and globally,” Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Founder and Managing Partner, said in a statement. “The skill and experience of the combined team will allow us to identify assets that will benefit from the deployment of success-based capital to further scale or diversify, while also enabling the development of new companies competitively advantaged as market and consumer trends continue to evolve.”
Cardinale went on to note that Zucker’s “substantial operating expertise” should jibe nicely with RedBird and IMI’s “sophisticated financial and investing acumen.” RedBird currently manages over $7.5 billion in assets.