Curt Hecht, global chief revenue officer at The Weather Channel, has died. He was 47.
“I am incredibly sad to share the incomprehensible news that we have lost our dear friend and colleague, Curt Hecht, to lung cancer,” said Weather Channel chairman David Kenny in a memo to staff. “Curt was battling lung cancer over the last five months, something that is almost impossible to believe given what an amazing athlete he was and that he never smoked. Life is neither fair nor predictable.”
Hecht, considered a pioneer in digital advertising, joined Weather Channel in 2012 after two decades in at Publicis. As Kenny said of Hecht, “in every tough situation, Curt kept me anchored on what matters — family first, our people second, clients and audience third, and the money will take care of itself. Curt and I both dream big, but he is the one who could turn the dream into a reality.”
Here is the full memo on Hecht’s passing:
Dear Weather Company Family,
I am incredibly sad to share the incomprehensible news that we have lost our dear friend and colleague, Curt Hecht, to lung cancer. Curt was battling lung cancer over the last five months, something that is almost impossible to believe given what an amazing athlete he was and that he never smoked. Life is neither fair nor predictable.
I have known Curt for at least one third of his short 47 years, and I can tell you that his life mattered in countless ways. His life mattered most to the love of his life, his wife, and his two beautiful daughters.
Curt’s life mattered to the digital advertising industry, as he pioneered countless innovations with his clients at Starcom MediaVest, VivaKi, Publicis, and The Weather Company. Curt was an early pioneer in search, “native” advertising, localization, social-informed ads, and retargeting. Curt created the first agency trading desk.
Curt’s life mattered to The Weather Company. He recruited and developed an extraordinary team. He strengthened our relationships with key partners, including Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Hearst. He had the vision for WeatherFX, which has totally changed the value of our audience to advertisers. He championed the best programmatic operation in the industry.
Curt’s life and friendship mattered to me. Curt and I had breakfast in Las Vegas during CES 2012, and he encouraged me to take the risk and realize the potential of transforming The Weather Channel Companies. A few months later, he took his own risk to join us. In every tough situation, Curt kept me anchored on what matters — family first, our people second, clients and audience third, and the money will take care of itself. Curt and I both dream big, but he is the one who could turn the dream into a reality. When daily pressures created chaos and drama, Curt would prioritize and keep us focused on the most important and critical matters.
Curt only shared his cancer battle with a few people. He did not want a fuss, or pity, or distraction. Those of us close to him developed an aspiration to be “just half as tough as Curt.” To him, cancer was like a challenging bike ride. He attacked it with grit and determination, and fearlessly agreed to clinical trials so that others could also learn from his fight.
Curt’s family wish is for a private ceremony this week. In October, they are planning a day of remembrance in Chicago. Curt’s wife has also agreed to join us for a company-wide celebration of his life this fall. She wants to share how much Curt loved The Weather Company, and how proud and confident he was in our future. We will send more details on these events once we have them.
There are a couple of ways you can help Curt’s family in their unspeakable grief right now. We are collecting written memories of Curt so that his girls can have many stories to help them remember their Dad. If you have memories to share, please send them to Mary Paiz and she will collect them for the family. If you would like to make a donation to the Hecht girls’ education fund, you can also do that at http://www.gofundme.com/curthecht.
Curt’s life mattered, and he is simply irreplaceable. His spirit is still with us, and we will continue our success if we are only “half as strong as Curt.” I miss you already, Curt. I am sure we all do.