Washington Post digital revenue officer Ken Babby to leave

March 2, 2012
Category: Uncategorized

Ken Babby, the company’s chief revenue officer, general manager for digital “has decided to leave The Post in order to pursue other digital ventures,” announced Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth this afternoon. Babby started at the Post 12 years ago as an intern in IT.

In an article last Friday about the Washington Post Co.’s fourth quarter results, Steven Mufson wrote, “Despite big increases in online readership, online display advertising revenue at washingtonpost.com and Slate fell 15 percent and online classified revenue fell 5 percent for the fourth quarter.” “The company has had among the worst reported declines in the industry in the last six months,” says Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds.

The Post plans to immediately begin “an extensive, national search” for a Chief Revenue Officer (see job description). Babby’s last day is March 31.

At a visit to Poynter in May of 2010, Weymouth said this about the recently-promoted Babby:

Poynter President Karen Dunlap: What do you look for when you hire or promote? What are the qualities that you look for?

Weymouth: I look for a track record. I look for what they’ve done. And for people who are open and will listen. It really is a track record. And sometimes you take a bet, right? And sometimes you’re wrong.

We just promoted somebody who just turned 30 this year. He is our chief revenue officer and our digital GM. We’re taking a big bet on him, it’s a really big job, but every single job he has held he has knocked it out of the park. So it doesn’t matter if he’s 30 or 60, he’s great. I love to give him the job.

The memo follows the jump. Click here for the new org chart. || Related: Rick Edmonds interviews Babby | Vanity Fair profiles the Post

To All Post Employees,

We regret to announce that after 12 years, Ken Babby (Chief Revenue Officer, General Manager, Digital) has decided to leave The Post in order to pursue other digital ventures. We will miss Ken greatly.

Since assuming the CRO & GM, Digital role, Ken has made tremendous contributions to the growth of washingtonpost.com and our other digital properties. Under Ken’s leadership, all three of the company’s emerging businesses (mobile, video, and email) saw exponential growth in traffic, downloads, engagement, and revenue. The site experienced record traffic in 2011, with Ken working alongside his partners in News. He implemented many of our e-commerce efforts on the site including the launch of Post Tickets. In addition to his digital contributions, Ken and his team oversaw the success of many of our new businesses including: Washington Post Live, The Capitol Deal, and Capital Business.  On the sales side, Ken was also responsible for leading the Washington Post Media and Washington Post Digital sales teams, working with VPs Wendy Evans and Steve Stup.

Ken joined The Post in 1999 as a summer intern in IT. After completing internships at the newspaper and at Digital (then WPNI) over the next two summers, Ken joined The Post’s IT function full-time in 2002. Over the next eight years, Ken went from a Marketing Analyst supporting the Advertising function, to leading the National Technology sales team in Advertising, to the Manager of Entertainment Advertising, to Director of
the Major Accounts Unit (MAU), to becoming VP, Advertising for all of Washington Post Media. In each of these roles, Ken brought tremendous energy as well as innovative ideas, a results focused orientation, and

Ken’s contributions to The Post over the last 12 years have been exceptional. His hardworking nature, disciplined management style, and strong leadership will be greatly missed by all of us at The Post. We wish
him the best on his next endeavor. Ken has agreed to stay on until March 31, 2012 to help us with the transition.

Expanded Role for Shailesh Prakash
In light of Ken’s departure, we have taken the opportunity to evolve our structure to best position ourselves for future success.

It is our pleasure to announce that Shailesh Prakash will take on additional responsibility by leading both our Product Development and Technology functions as Vice President, Digital Product Development & Chief
Information Officer.  As we continue to adapt to an increasingly digital and hyper-competitive world, it is vital that Product Development and Technology work very closely to define and execute roadmaps that yield
maximum revenue using the best technology possible.  The most successful digital companies, from Facebook to Zynga to Google, have increasingly blurred the line between Product Development and Engineering and Shailesh will lead a unified Product Development and Engineering organization here at The Post. Shailesh brings an extensive and impressive track record of success in senior positions spanning multiple industries and has demonstrated success in working with senior teams, building collaboration between departments, creating customer-focused innovations, and in shaping environments where talent can flourish.  In the six short months he has been here, he has rolled up his sleeves and dived into the challenge of building a world-class technology platform and engineering team.

Shailesh recognizes that great product development is created by driving, in a collaborative way, towards a crystal clear vision, which leads to flawless execution. Through this approach, he has built strong relationships across the company with: the Newsroom, Advertising,
Corporate, WaPo Labs, external partners, his organization, and his colleagues throughout The Post.  He has attracted talented architects and also streamlined his organization.

In this role, Shailesh will report to Steve Hills, President & GM, and work closely with Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and other senior Newsroom Editors, in addition to our VP, Research & Chief Experience Officer Laura Evans, and Steve Stup, VP, Digital Advertising, to drive excellence in Product Development and Engineering.  Effective immediately, Beth Jacobs, GM, Mobile, Beth Diaz, Director, Digital Product Development, and Dave Goldberg, Director, Video, will report to Shailesh.  The currently vacant Director, Business Development role will also report to Shailesh.  The technology organization will remain unchanged and will continue to report to Shailesh.

Search for VP & Chief Revenue Officer Role Begins Now
As a result of these changes, we are discontinuing our search for Wendy Evans’ successor and eliminating her former role of VP, WPM Advertising. We are posting the role of VP & Chief Revenue Officer immediately, where we will mount an extensive, national search for a CRO who has performed a role of this scale and complexity for a significant amount of time.  We believe the breadth and mix of experience needed for this critical role requires us to look outside the organization, and we welcome any qualified referrals you may have.  Page down to access the attachment for the VP & CRO job posting.

Because we are eliminating the VP, WPM Advertising role, the five
Advertising Directors — Ethan Selzer, Mike Cirrito, Rebecca Haase, Costa
Bugg, and Kate Davey — will report to the VP & Chief Revenue Officer once the position is filled.  Additionally, Steve Stup, VP Digital Advertising, Jenny Abramson, GM WP Live & WP Magazine, Tim Condon, Director, New Ventures, Jackie Conrad, Director, Advertising Marketing, and Arnie Applebaum, GM, Express, ETL, & Capital Business, will report to the VP & CRO.  Administrative Assistants Angela Barnes, Kim Navarro, and Dayne Seiden will continue to support their respective areas.

Arnie Applebaum Becomes Interim VP, WPM Advertising

We recognize that the search for our new VP & CRO will take time.  We want to provide as much continuity to the WPM Advertising organization as possible between March 31 when Ken leaves The Post and when we fill the new VP & CRO role. Arnie Applebaum, currently GM, Express, ETL, & Capital Business, has graciously agreed to assume the role of Interim VP, WPM Advertising until the VP & CRO role is filled.  The following Advertising Directors will report to Arnie during this interim period: Ethan Selzer, Mike Cirrito, Rebecca Haase, and Jackie Conrad. This will enable a continued focus on the aggressive revenue targets we have established for the Washington Post Media sales team this year. Arnie brings the right mix of experience, savvy, and executive maturity to enable the continuity and success we need during this difficult transition. Arnie will continue to lead the businesses he has made so successful over the years — Express, ETL, and Capital Business — and will need all of our support as he fulfills these dual roles.  This interim role for Arnie becomes effective April 1, 2012.

Also during this interim period, Costa Bugg, Director Advertising
Operations and Kate Davey, Director, Advertising Business & Technology Operations, will continue their reporting relationship to Usha Chaudhary, VP, Finance & Administration & CFO.  Meanwhile, Steve Stup, VP, Digital Advertising, Jenny Abramson, GM, WP Live & WP Magazine, and Tim Condon, Director, New Ventures, will report to Steve Hills, President & GM.

The rest of these changes are effective immediately and the transition is already underway. Page down to access an updated organization chart that reflects these changes.

Please join us in thanking Ken for his invaluable service, and Arnie for
assuming this interim role. Also, please join us in congratulating Shailesh on his new responsibilities.


Steve Hills
President & General Manager
Washington Post Media

Katharine Weymouth
Publisher, The Washington Post
CEO, Washington Post Media


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