As co-chairman of the U.S. operations of Random House parent Bertelsmann and president of digital media investments, Sarnoff most recently helped forge digital strategies at Random House and played a pivotal role in negotiating a settlement between the publishing industry and Google over the search engine’s books initiative.
Sarnoff becomes the latest media topper to move into private equity. List includes former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, now an adviser at Providence Equity Partners; former Viacom chief financial officer Richard Bressler, now a director at Thomas H. Lee Partners; and former AOL Time Warner co-chief operating officer Bob Pittman, founder of the Pilot Group.
“The privilege of having such a varied and long career at Bertelsmann and Random House — and contributing to the growth of leading companies in books, television, services and magazines and digital media — has been a great preparation for an active role in the transactions that will define the media industry in years to come,” Sarnoff said.
In addition, Sarnoff will serve on the board of Weld North, a partnership between KKR and Jonathan Grayer, the former head of Washington Post Co. education unit Kaplan. Sarnoff will help identify new investment possibilities in consumer services for Weld North.
Sarnoff’s great uncle was broadcasting pioneer David Sarnoff, the former chairman of RCA.