Geraldine Laybourne is diving back into children’s television with her appointment as a board member of Toronto-based 9 Story Media Group, home of the PBS hit “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.”
Laybourne has made an investment in the private equity fund headed by her longtime business associate and media investor Strauss Zelnick that controls 9 Story. Laybourne is set to play an active role in guiding the company’s expansion of its TV programming and digital endeavors.
“Gerry has been an absolute leader over the course of her career for her support of creator-led projects. As a board member, her expertise and counsel will be absolutely invaluable as we grow to become a global leader in kids and family entertainment on all platforms,” said Vince Commisso, president-CEO of 9 Story.
Laybourne, the exec who built Nickelodeon into a kids TV powerhouse in the 1980s and ’90s, hasn’t worked in kids TV since she left Disney/ABC in the late 1990s. After 9 Story acquired Brown Bag Films earlier this year, Laybourne realized that the company had the kind of scale needed to attract top creative talent. She is planning a series of meetings in Los Angeles for 9 Story execs in the coming weeks. Brown Bag brought to the 9 Story fold “Doc McStuffins” and “Octonauts.”
“You don’t want to be too big but you want economies of scale so that more money can go on the screen,” Laybourne told Variety. “This feels like it has the right people and the right timing.”
Laybourne most recently launched a kid-focused technology company Kandu that is developing a “Minecraft”-like video game revolving around animals. There may be collaboration opportunities for 9 Story and Kandu down the road, she said.