Publisher and broadcaster Hearst Corp. has hired its first chief technology officer as it tries to expand its digital footprint. Former Sony executive Philip R. Wiser will start in the new position Feb. 1.
Wiser was CTO of Sony Corp. of America from 2004 to 2006, where he was “responsible for growing digital businesses and maximizing the combined benefit of technology and content for the company, including music, movies and games,” according to a Hearst statement announcing his hire. Prior to that, Wiser was svp and CTO of Sony Music's digital business group, which he also founded.
After leaving Sony, Wiser co-founded Sezmi Corp., a cloud-based TV platform provider that went on to raise more than $70 million. He acted as chairman and vp of Sezmi until earlier this month when it was sold to Prague-based video management software company KIT Digital for around $27 million in cash and stock.
Hearst has been pumping up its digital efforts, releasing e-reader and tablet versions of a number of its publications like Cosmopolitan and O, the Oprah Magazine; developing branded YouTube channels for its automotive and fashion titles; and opening the Hearst App Lab, a "think tank" for digital apps. Hearst has also begun exploring ways to expand its brands to television, signing a deal to acquire a 50 percent share in Mark Burnett Productions last April.
In a statement, Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack Jr. noted that “[Wiser’s] experience as chief technology officer of a major media company and building digital companies in two different fields—television and music—will certainly help our businesses grapple with the changing landscape and continue to provide the best media and information products possible.”