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Geraldine Laybourne (née Bond; born May 19, 1947)[1] is a former TV executive and an American entrepreneur in media and technology. She led the team that created Nickelodeon in the 1980s and '90s and co-founded Oxygen Media.[2] She is co-founder of a tech startup called Katapult.

Geraldine Laybourne
Born
Geraldine Bond

(1947-05-19) May 19, 1947 (age 72)
NationalityAmericans
Other namesGerry Laybourne
EducationVassar College
University of Pennsylvania
OccupationBusiness executive
Entrepreneur
Years active1980-present
Known forCEO of Oxygen Media
(1998-2007)
Spouse(s)Kit Laybourne
Children2

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Laybourne was born in Martinsville, New Jersey, a rural community of about 400.[1] She is the second of four children, born to a former radio writer/actress and community organizer and a stock broker.[citation needed]

In 1969, Laybourne earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Vassar College. In 1971, she received a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.[3]

CareerEdit

After college, Laybourne had various jobs. From 1969 to 1970, Laybourne worked at Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd, an architecture firm in Philadelphia.[1] From 1972 to 1973, she worked as a teacher at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. Then from 1974 to 1976, Laybourne worked as a festival coordinator of the New York American Film Festival.[3]

In 1974, she co-founded the Media Center for Children, which she was involved with until 1977.[3] Laybourne said she founded the Media Center for Children because she was concerned about the media her children were watching.

From 1978 to 1980, she was a partner at Early Bird Special Company in New York.[3]

Nickelodeon (1980-1996)Edit

In 1980, Laybourne was hired as a program manager at Nickelodeon, a year-old network, where she initiated the focus-group approach to programming.

Laybourne was one of the first people to focus on television programming for kids. She spent 15 years at Nickelodeon, taking over the management of the network, and started accepting advertising for the network, in 1984.[1][4]

Laybourne and her team were responsible for creating and building the Nickelodeon brand, launching Nick at Nite and expanding the network by establishing it in other countries, developing theme parks and creating Nickelodeon magazine, movie, toy and publishing divisions.[citation needed]

Under her leadership, Nickelodeon became the top-rated 24-hour cable programming service and won Emmy Awards, Peabody Awards, CableACE Awards and Parents' Choice Awards. The network had a 40% profit margin and explosive growth every year.[5]

Laybourne built Nickelodeon into the first global television network to profit from selling advertising targeted towards children. Her programming approach, which made a point of talking to children as equals, built the tiny cable network, which had only five employees in 1980, into an $8 billion business.[6]

Disney (1996-1998)Edit

Laybourne left Nickelodeon in 1996 to become president of Disney-ABC Cable Networks, guiding the growth and overseeing the programming of the Disney Channel and represented the corporate interests in Lifetime, A&E, E!, and The History Channel. She led the development two projects that did not come to fruition: ABC 24 Hour News cable channel and ABZ, an innovative education channel. Laybourne played a role in the creation and management of ABC’s Saturday morning children’s programming schedule, with the successful launch of One Saturday morning. She's said to have felt stifled by the corporate structure at Disney.[6]

Oxygen Media (1998-2007)Edit

In 1998, Laybourne left Disney and partnered with Oprah Winfrey and Carsey-Werner Productions to create Oxygen Media, a cable TV company dedicated to creating television and Internet programming for women. She also purchased three women-oriented online services from her former MTV boss, Robert W. Pittman.[citation needed]

On February 2, 2000 (a date which plays off the chemical compound of oxygen—O2/O2), the Oxygen Network premiered to 10 million subscribers.[6]

LVMH was an early investor, but left in 2001 when Laybourne changed strategy from being an Internet company to a television company.[citation needed]

Laybourne initially hired 700 people, but scaled down to 250. The company went on to become profitable in 2004. Microsoft billionaire, Paul Allen, who invested in three rounds of Oxygen, forced Oxygen's sale in the late 2007 to NBC Universal for $925 million. At the end of Laybourne's tenure, Oxygen had 270,000 prime-time weekday viewers in 74 million homes.[5]

MentorshipEdit

Laybourne started the mentoring program, Global Women's Mentoring Walks, which pairs established and emerging women professionals to engage in mentoring partnerships in communities across the globe.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1970, Laybourne married Kit Laybourne, a television producer, entrepreneur, author, and educator. They have two children, Emmy and Sam, and four grandchildren. Daughter Emmy Laybourne is the author of a series of young adult novels called Monument 14 and is an actress who has appeared in Superstar and other films. Son Sam Laybourne is a writer and producer for television series such as Arrested Development, Cougar Town, The Michael J. Fox Show, and Grandfathered with John Stamos.

Boards and membershipsEdit

  • 9 Story Media Group, Board Member
  • Acumen Fund, Advisor
  • Betaworks, Board Member
  • Katapult, Chairman of the Board, Co-Founder
  • Springboard, Advisor
  • 2007-present: Symantec, Board Member; Compensation Committee[8]
  • 1997-present: Vassar College, Board of Trustees; 2010-14: President of the Alumnae/i Association of Vassar College (AAVC); Co-Chair of Vassar Presidential Search Committee[9]
  • Vital Voices, Advisor
Past positions

HonorsEdit

Works and publicationsEdit

  • Laybourne, Geraldine (1993). "Chapter 23: The Nickelodeon Experience". In Berry, Gordon L; Asamen, Joy K (Keiko) (eds.). Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. pp. 303–307. ISBN 978-1-483-32622-1. OCLC 918558971.

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Cy Schneider
Nickelodeon president
1984–1996
Succeeded by
Herb Scannell