Kate Mitchell is leaving Oprah Winfrey’s OWN to join Gallery Media Group — the digital-media holding company established by serial entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk last year — as its first chief revenue officer.
Mitchell most recently was SVP of sales at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, which is majority owned by Discovery. Before joining OWN in 2014, she spent nearly a decade at Discovery, where she helped launch OWN in 2011.
Gallery Media was formed when Vaynerchuk and RSE Ventures, a venture firm led by real-estate developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, acquired women’s lifestyle digital publisher PureWow in January 2017. In June, Gallery Media launched One37pm, a brand aimed at young men that blends “culture, style, music and sports, through the lens of entrepreneurship,” according to the company.
Gallery Media CEO Ryan Harwood, who founded PureWow in 2010, said he interviewed more than 100 candidates for the CRO position before selecting Mitchell.
“We need to put more rigor around the sales process in a way we haven’t had before,” Harwood said. In searching for a new sales leader, “we put a disproportionate emphasis on culture fit. With Kate, it was immediate love at first sight. We really hit it off. We come from the same train of thought.”
In addition to Mitchell’s hire, Gallery Media has promoted Kevin Stetter — previously EVP of business and ad operations for PureWow — to chief operating officer.
Mitchell, for her part, said, “When you come from the world of Oprah, you tend to be a little more selective about where you go next.” In Gallery Media, she found a company “leaning into the areas I love the most,” with the ability to tailor and target branded content to audiences across multiple platforms.
Gallery Media is different from other digital-media companies because it’s focused on areas “where advertising actually works today,” according to Harwood. He says those include podcasts, voice-enabled interfaces like Amazon Alexa, and influencer marketing.
In addition, Gallery Media doesn’t have the same church-and-state separation between ad sales and editorial departments that exist in traditional media companies. Harwood explained it this way: “Great content is great content, whether it’s sponsored or not. If we get [an advertising client] I don‘t want the ad sales team to be hesitant to talk with an editor about [ideas for promoting] the content.” That said, Gallery labels any paid-for content in accordance with FTC guidelines. Also, Harwood said, “We would never publish something that would compromise an editor’s integrity.”
Mitchell said Gallery Media’s philosophy encouraging collaboration between editorial and ad-sales teams was something that appealed to her: “If you’re going to grab a consumer’s attention, you want to get the best people to do that,” she said.
Gallery Media operates as a sister company to VaynerX’s digital advertising agency VaynerMedia, which was founded in 2009.
Currently, Gallery Media has about 150 employees. Harwood said PureWow and One37pm represent the company’s core brands (“the surf and turf of Gallery Media Group”), with potentially more properties to be rolled up in the future.