When former Digitas CEO David Kenny pulled his hat from the ring in the Yahoo CEO search, he hinted he had other options to consider. On Tuesday he was named chairman and CEO of The Weather Channel, replacing former AOL exec Mike Kelly, who has held the job since summer of 2009.
Weather Channel is owned by a consortium that includes Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group and NBC Universal. Mr. Kelly will remain an adviser to Mr. Kenny and to Bain.
Mr. Kenny left his post as CEO of Akamai last fall to pursue what he called opportunities in the "consumer internet," which fueled speculation that he would replace Carol Bartz as CEO of Yahoo, where Mr. Kenny serves on the board. And while Mr. Kenny did have initial conversations about taking the post, he withdrew his candidacy. Yahoo named former PayPal executive Scott Thompson to the job earlier this month.The Weather Channel was among several companies, including WebMD and Autotrader, that Yahoo was interested in acquiring as part of a deal to swap its holdings in its Japanese joint venture with Alibaba Group, according to Bloomberg News.
But Mr. Kenny, who previously served as president of web infrastructure at Akamia, says his primary goal at The Weather Channel is to "move things faster."
"The Weather Channel is focused on building the business and my appointment has nothing to do with Yahoo," Mr. Kenny told Advertising Age.
As CEO of Weather Channel, Mr. Kenny takes the reins of a fully distributed cable channel and one of the biggest digital properties in the U.S., with 62 million unique monthly users. Part of the challenge is leveraging Weather Channel's vast trove of consumer data, including location and in some cases travel plans, to serve targeted advertising.
While Mr. Kenny said he doesn't plan on making major changes, he is looking to expand the presence of digital and mobile on a global scale, creating a seamless flow between all platforms.
He also sees opportunities in long-form programming, piggybacking off the success of shows like "Coast Guard Alaska."
"There's a real opportunity for long-form programs that fit with the brand," Kenny said. "There's a nice pipeline."
Contributing: Jeanine Poggi