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Top Business Schools For Media Moguls!

Neither Oprah nor Rupert Murdoch hold MBAs, but will the new generation of media minds try something different?

By  Ifeatu Nnaobi

Fri Dec 28 2012


We researched the bigwigs of the media industry and found that only a handful of media moguls hold MBAs. And as the internet eats the media industry, the next generation of media moguls are likely to be engineering grads rather than MBAs!

However, if you are looking to run a media comglomerate, don't lose heart as there are a few notable exceptions. Read on to find out who they are! 

The top three media businesses in the USA are Comcast, valued at UUS$96 billion, NewsCorp at US$58 billion and ESPN at US$40 billion. These companies are run by powerful media personalities who have had a long history in the industry. 

Comcast is run by former All-American squash player and Wharton grad Brian L Roberts. Unfortunately he only stuck around at Wharton long enough to earn a BS in Business.

Rupert Mudorch has been in the news more than ever this year thanks to the scandal that rocked News Corporation, Murdoch does not have an MBA. He inherited his media firm from daddy after getting a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Worcester College, University of Oxford. 

ESPN CEO John Skipper earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. He started out as a secretary at Rolling Stone magazine before moving up the corporate ladder!

Former queen of daytime TV Oprah Winfrey created a more intimate, confessional form of media communication. She never got an MBA but earned her communications degree at Tennessee State University, through a full scholarship. As of March 2012, Oprah was worth an estimated US$2.7 Billion. 

American media mogul, Donald Newhouse had a net worth of $6.4 billion as of March 2012, according to FORBES. The Syracuse University drop-out is one co-owner of Advance Publications and oversees the newspaper portion of the firm which runs local papers in more than 25 cities in America. His brother Si Newhouse takes care of magazines under the Condé Nast banner, including the New Yorker, Vogue, GQ and the popular website Reddit.

Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III founded cable news network CNN. He was first a Classics student at Brown University but changed to Economics because of his father’s disapproval. He never completed the degree because he was expelled for having a female student in his dorm room. 

Jimmy Lai founded Next Media, the largest listed media company in Hong Kong and one of the world's biggest Chinese-language media groups. He was born into an impoverished family in Guangdong province and was only educated to fifth grade level. He was smuggled to Hong Kong aboard a small boat at the age of 12 where, to begin with, he worked as a child-laborer in a garment factory for a wage of $8 per month. 

Gawker Media, an American online media company and blog network, was founded by former FT journalist and British public school boy Nick Denton. Gawker is considered to be one of the most visible and successful blog-oriented media companies. As of March 2012, it was the parent company for eight different weblogs:, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, io9, Kotaku, Jalopnik, and Jezebel. In 2009, the corporation was estimated to be worth $300 million, with $60 million in advertising revenues and more than $30 million in operating profit. Nick studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at University College, Oxford University. 

Arianna Huffington, the Greek-American author and syndicated columnist studied Economics at Girton College, Cambridge. In 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for US$315 million and made Huffington President and Editor- in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which included The Huffington Post and then-existing AOL properties such as Engadget, AOL Music, Patch Media, and StyleList.

There are, however, a few media moguls who have trodden the MBA path...

The king of new media, US-born Kevin P. Ryan earned his MBA from INSEAD in 1990. Ryan quickly established himself as an Internet entrepreneur through a number of successful ventures, including DoubleClick and Gilt Groupe. Ryan joined online advertising company DoubleClick when it was a start-up of 20 people. When he resigned in 2005, after the firm was sold for $1.1bn to a private equity firm, the company had over 1,500 employees.

Ryan then founded the Gilt Groupe, an online business that sells clothing, home-décor, apparel and holiday packages. Founded in 2007, it now has 5 million members.  

Most impressive of all, in era of prolific news output from TechCrunch, the Huffington Post, Twitter and, Ryan has launched his own successful news website, and it's making money! Business Insider publishes a mixture of original and third party news stories with hilarious headlines and commentary by a relatively small team of 45 people.

The site is edited by the colourful Henry Blodget, a former Wall Street analyst who was barred from the securities industry after being convicted of fraud in 2001. Business Insider has proved so popular that it now gets 5.4 million unique monthly visitirs, more than!

INSEAD MBA Ryan said in an interview with Mashable: “I have to be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life because I can't easily work for anyone."

Founder and CEO of Black Press, David Black received an MBA at the University of Western Ontario. He founded Black Press in 1975 when he bought the Williams Lake Tribune from his father Alan and partner Clive Stangoe. Over two years he learned the inner workings of the newspaper, taking photographs, filing copy, changing the plates on the printing machine, and writing the cheques.

He says that this time allowed him to know exactly how many people were needed in each department. Black Press Ltd now owns newspapers in Alberta, British Columbia, Hawaii, Ohio and Washington and together has a circulation of over 2.8 million copies.

Linus Gitahi is CEO of Nation Media Group,  East Africa’s largest media conglomerate, and he got an MBA from Kenya’s United States International University in Nairobi. Gatahi had devoted much of his younger career to pharmaceutical companies and he served as Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline for West Africa. He became CEO of the  Nation Media Group in 2006.  The media group, valued at $350m, publishes newspapers and also owns three television and three radio stations as well as internet companies in East Africa. 

Michael R. Bloomberg was worth $25 billion in 2012 and is founder and 88% owner of Bloomberg L.P. He attended Johns Hopkins University, where he worked as a parking lot attendant to pay his tuition. He graduated in 1964 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. In 1966 he received his MBA from Harvard Business School.

The next generation

The internet has created a bevy of young media innovators who might be recognized as media moguls in the future. These young techies have revolutionized the way we find and consume media content. 

Founder and CEO of Slam Content Joseph Marinaccio is only 18 years old and has an estimated net worth of $60 million. He became the youngest CEO of a NASDAQ listed company in 2011 when Slam Content filed to reserve the trade ticker ‘SLAM’. In March 2011, he was named one of the Top 20 Mobile Technology Executives by VentureBeat. Slam Content currently publishes three magazines, five websites, and four mobile applications covering sports and entertainment. He also owns Panther Records, a record label based in Hollywood, CA.

Pete Cashmore, 27, founded the popular news blog Mashable while still living at home in Scotland. Despite reports earlier this year of an imminent sale to CNN at a rumored price of $200 million, Cashmore is still its owner.

David Karp, 26, built microblogging platform Tumblr from a tool he whipped up in his free time. It's now home to nearly 70 million blogs, and is most popular with teen and college-aged students. Tumblr was valued at $800 million in its last round of financing in August 2011. Not bad for a guy who never finished high school!

Matt Mullenweg, 28, changed blogging in 2005 when he launched open source platform WordPress. It now powers 15 per cent of the internet. The Political Science dropout from the University of Hourston also plays saxophone and supports providing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

How much will the media moguls of tomorrow be worth and will any of them opt for MBAs? That’s a story that’s worth keeping an eye on!