26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Kenneth Bronfin and Scott English, senior managing directors and co-heads, Hearst Ventures
Media group Hearst Corporation, founded by fabled businessman William Randolph Hearst 133 years ago, has been a stalwart of corporate venturing for at least two decades. Hearst Ventures now has more than $1bn in strategic investments in companies operating at the intersection of media and technology.
As an early adopter of corporate venturing, it can lay claim to starting its investment program as one of five corporate investors in Netscape, the US-based search engine widely credited for kicking off the dot-com boom due to the success of its initial public offering in 1995, the same year as Kenneth Bronfin’s partner, Scott English, joined the team.
Scott English is also a senior managing director and co-head of Hearst Ventures and pursues strategic investments and acquisitions for Hearst in digital media. English has invested in, and served as a board director or observer of, over 16 companies. Most recently, English led the investments in portfolio companies BuzzFeed, Pandora, Relationship Science, Brightcove, Sling Media and WideOrbit. His primary focus is on Hearst’s investments in the United States.
Since English joined Hearst in 1995, he has had a variety of operational and investment responsibilities during his tenure. Aside from his Ventures activities, he helped oversee two of Hearst’s digital businesses and acted as interim CEO of UGO Networks. In his first position at Hearst, English ran business development and strategy for Hearst’s HomeArts.com network of magazine websites culminating in the merger of HomeArts.com and Women.com (iVillage). Prior to Hearst, he worked for Details magazine at Conde Nast.
Bronfin, who was deputy then group head of Hearst Interactive Media for nearly 16 years until he was made senior managing director of ventures, said for Global Corporate Venturing’s Powerlist in 2016: “We invested in video on the internet in the early days. Our first investment in the space was Broadcast.com, with Mark Cuban. This became a valuable company, ultimately acquired by Yahoo. We were an early investor in Brightcove, which has built itself into a terrific company serving the publishing community.”
The company is involved with corporate venturing to stay abreast of changes in the sector. Increasingly, this means deals outside the US. Hearst Ventures made Katie Hu general manager of its China investments in 2014, then hired Megumi Ikeda as managing director for Europe and its Israeli venture investment office run by Gil Canaani.
Its investment approach by sector has remained largely consistent. Bronfin added: “Our sectors of interest have essentially remained the same. We are focused on companies with the potential to change the media landscape.”
Hearst Ventures has invested in fields as diverse as non-media players like mobility services and software provider Via Transportation, fleet management technology provider Maven Machines, healthcare payment platform Aver and automotive insurance comparison service Insurify.
The unit has also added areas where the corporation was less active, such as gaming, where it backed companies such as mobile game developer Robin Games. Internet streaming company Roku, one of its former portfolio companies exited in September 2017 in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq.
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