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Thomas Hesse (Born 1966, Brussels) is a senior media and digital media executive and entrepreneur. He was President of Corporate Development and New Businesses as well as Member of the Executive Board of Bertelsmann until December 31, 2013. He was previously Sony Music Entertainment's President of Global Digital Business, US Sales, and Corporate Strategy. He is based in New York, NY and Berlin, Germany.
Hesse holds a BA and MA from Oxford University, an MSc from the London School of Economics and a Doctorate in Corporate Finance from the University of St. Gallen. He studied as a concert pianist at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf, Germany.
In his position at Bertelsmann, which he took up in February 2012, Hesse oversaw the company's worldwide corporate and digital development, as well as its music rights division BMG Rights Management and its venture capital arms, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Bertelsmann Asia Investments. He was also responsible for the M&A team and the company's engagement in education venture fund University Ventures. His board memberships included the Board of Directors of RTL Group, Luxembourg, Europe's largest TV broadcasting company; Penguin Random House, the world's largest book publisher; the Supervisory Board of Gruner+Jahr, Europe's largest magazine publisher; and Arvato, a large Business Process Outsourcing company. Hesse left Bertelsmann as of the end of 2013 to pursue new opportunities.
Hesse was previously President of Sony Music in charge of Global Digital Business and US Sales, as well as Corporate Strategy. In that role, he was responsible for Sony Music's worldwide revenues from digital exploitation via online and mobile media, as well as for New Technology and Digital Business Development. He oversaw the growth of digital music at Sony Music to about half of its total US revenues and a large share internationally and was directly responsible for all US and global digital and physical partner relations. He also led Sony Music's digital direct-to-consumer efforts and was as co-founder of VEVO, the digital music channel, together with Universal Music and Abu Dhabi Media Company.
Hesse joined BMG in New York to serve as Chief Strategic Officer in 2002. In that role he was driving BMG's merger with Sony Music and was also responsible for Digital Business Development and New Technology. Prior to joining BMG, Hesse was Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Strategy at Bertelsmann, and previously held a number of executive positions at the company's television division RTL Group. In particular, Hesse was CEO of RTL NEW MEDIA, a subsidiary of RTL Television, Germany, and previously, as Secretary General of RTL Television Germany, in charge of Program Acquisition and Distribution. Hesse began his career in media and entertainment as a corporate consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on Media and Corporate Finance.
Copy protection rootkit scandal
In 2005, asked about the Sony BMG Copy protection rootkit, Hesse's declaration to reporter Neda Ulaby: "Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?" became famous and added prominence to the case to reporters and the general public.
- "17 March 2003 - New management structure at". RTL Group. 2003-03-17. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Thomas Hesse Adds Responsibility For U.S. Sales To Existing Role as President, Global Digital Business, SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT
- "Sony Music CDs Under Fire from Privacy Advocates". NPR. 2005-11-04. Archived from the original on 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
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