Neeraj Khemlani is an experienced media executive and investor operating at the intersection of digital, media and technology. He oversees Hearst’s investments in entertainment companies: cable networks like ESPN and the A+E Networks (A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime); digital video entertainment companies like Complex Networks; cable television and digital video production through NorthSouth Productions; subscription video on demand services for emerging markets through iflix; streaming music publishing and platform services through Kobalt Music, and comics syndication and character licensing through King Features.
He serves on the boards of A+E Networks, NorthSouth, Complex Networks, iflix, Kobalt Music and is a senior vice president and member of the board of directors of Hearst.
Neeraj’s diverse background across journalism (he began his career in network news, producing stories for the late Peter Jennings at ABC News and then Dan Rather, the late Bob Simon, Steve Kroft and other correspondents at “60 Minutes”) and digital technologies (prior to Hearst, Khemlani was vice president and general manager of Yahoo! News & Information as well as head of Yahoo! Originals) has molded Khemlani into one of the savviest and most forward-looking pioneers in media.
In the last year, what has been your proudest accomplishment?
Working with the leaders of companies shaping the future of media streaming. Whether it’s investing in ESPN’s efforts to grow its new digital video subscription service, or Kobalt’s platform to empower artists and songwriters in the rapidly changing music business, or the storytellers at Complex to create digital video formats that routinely garner audiences larger than many television shows, I am proud to be a part of incredible teams who take nothing for granted and know their work is shaping the future of the industry one day at a time.
How has your ethnic identity impacted you personally or your career?
I was born in Singapore, the crossroads of Southeast Asia, with large Indian, Malay and Chinese populations—all disciplined to focus on family and the future. That, combined with my Indian background and American upbringing that focused on the power of equality, patriotism and the first amendment, has helped me become a global citizen with some of the best attributes of both East and West.
Who are some of your biggest supporters and trusted advocates throughout your journey?
Being part of a strong management team that is committed to investing in the future and thoughtful and deliberate about the risks it’s willing to take. I’m constantly inspired by Steve Swartz (CEO of Hearst) and Frank Bennack (Executive Vice Chairman of Hearst). They have taught me about the importance of having a diversity of management teams, long-lasting commitment to our partners, and the relentless pursuit of strong talent, product and business models for the future. The team at “60 Minutes” taught me the art of storytelling and how to make a larger impact on the world. Paul Buccieri at A+E is a model on how to tactically improve businesses on every line item all the time. Jimmy Pitaro at ESPN is an incredible partner and is committed to delivering the best sports content to fans everywhere. And most importantly, my wife, Heather Cabot, and my children, Ian and Samantha, remind me every day what it is all really about.