What’s the fastest-growing business at Hearst?Not ESPN. Not its 30 TV stations. Not its recent investments in Vice Media or Buzzfeed. The rock star at Hearst at present is Homecare Homebase, a company that provides the software used by home health care agencies.Hearst CEO Steve Swartz offered that tidbit during a Q&A conversation with Hearst exec vice chairman held as part of the Paley Center for Media’s International Council Summit Thursday in New York. The 40-minute session offered a rare...
After 20-plus years at Hearst, Steven Swartz took over as CEO in 2013, stepping into Frank Bennack Jr.’s shoes – only the seventh person to do so in the company’s 126-year history. But he walked into a leadership role of a company with vast, diverse holdings that included full and partial stakes in everything from ESPN and A+E Networks to Cosmopolitan and the San Francisco Chronicle, plus profitable B2B titles with Hearst Business Media; he also inherited a slew of relatively recent acquisitions in health care services and a bond rating service, Fitch Group.
It’s not easy to sew that kind of diversification together into something resembling synergy, but that’s been Swartz’s ongoing mission. He’s made some tough decisions, selling off Hearst’s portion of Mark Burnett’s company this year for a reported $200M to MGM, for example. Ultimately those moves seem to be working: Hearst posted a fifth consecutive year of record earnings with $10.7B, as per Swartz’s annual letter.
The son of Boeing factory workers, Swartz attended Harvard College and moved directly to the Wall Street Journal in 1984, before launching Smart Money and then on to Hearst. Insiders report he’s still an edit man at heart – eating with employees in the company cafeteria, and sometimes even leaving the tie behind.