It’s been just under a year since Jeff Zucker resigned from his position as president of CNN Worldwide after his relationship with CNN chief marketing officer Allison Gollust became public knowledge. That’s not the most dignified way to exit your job of nine years, but Zucker has landed on his feet as CEO of RedBird IMI, a new joint investment venture between International Media Investments and RedBird Capital Partners.
“I’ve spent 35 years running media businesses at the intersection of news, sports and entertainment, creating new brands and resurrecting old ones,” Zucker said in a Tuesday press release. “That experience has given me 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.”
Before Bob Iger returned to Walt Disney Co. as CEO last month, he was negotiating a major role at Redbird that would provide “significant financial resources to help shape the media landscape,” Variety reported.
Redbird investments include a movie studio to be launched by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, LeBron James’ Springhill Entertainment, David Ellison’s Skydance and a new content production partnership with the NFL via Skydance Sports, and the Fenway Sports Group.
Zucker is also an operating partner in the venture, which launches with an initial committed capital of $1 billion. It will focus on acquiring and investing in media, entertainment and sports content properties. It combines the resources of IMI, an Abu Dhabi-based firm focused on global media, with those of the New York-based RedBird, which was established in 2004 by Gerry Cardinale and manages $7.5 billion in assets across entertainment and financial services businesses.
“The RedBird IMI joint venture has come together at an important time as the media industry continues to evolve in both content creation and distribution to meet the evolving expectations of consumers globally,” IMI CEO Nart Bouran said in a statement. “Partnering with Jeff Zucker and Gerry Cardinale will enable us to bring tremendous operational, investing and financial expertise to make impactful and transformative investments across the media, entertainment and sports landscapes.”
Before joining RedBird, Zucker served as CEO of CNN from 2013 to February of this year, before his relationship with Gollust became public knowledge in January during the network’s internal investigation into Chris Cuomo’s involvement in suppressing allegations of sexual misconduct against his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In his resignation letter, Zucker maintained the relationship was consensual but admitted he did not disclose it to the company when it began.
Prior to his tenure at CNN, Zucker spent 25 years at NBC Universal, serving as CEO from 2007 to 2011, and co-founded Hulu in 2007. From 2019 to this year, he also worked as President of Turner Sports.
Zucker left CNN two months before the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, which has since caused a host of problems for the cable news giant. As a result of the debt from the merger and overall cuts at WBD, new CNN head Chris Licht has already had to cut original documentary films from the channel’s programming and laid off several staff members this November.