Geraldine Laybourne

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Geraldine Laybourne
Geraldine Bond

(1947-05-19) May 19, 1947 (age 75)
Other namesGerry Laybourne
EducationVassar College
University of Pennsylvania
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur, TV executive
Years active1980-present
Known forPresident of Nickelodeon
CEO of Oxygen Media
SpouseKit Laybourne
ChildrenEmmy Laybourne, Sam Laybourne

Geraldine Laybourne (née Bond; born May 19, 1947)[1] is an American entrepreneur and former TV executive. She worked at Nickelodeon from 1980 until 1996, when she became the president of Disney-ABC Cable Networks (including Disney Channel).[2] She is also the co-founder of Oxygen Media[3] and a tech startup called Katapult. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Early life and education[edit]

Laybourne was raised in Martinsville, a rural community of about 400 in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey.[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.[4]


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.[4]

In 1974, she co-founded the Media Center for Children, which she was involved with until 1977.[4] 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.[4]

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][5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[2] She led the development of 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.

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.[7]

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 NBCUniversal for $925 million. At the end of Laybourne's tenure, Oxygen had 270,000 prime-time weekday viewers in 74 million homes.[6]


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.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1970, Laybourne married Kit Laybourne, a television producer, entrepreneur, author, and educator. They have been residents of Montclair, New Jersey[9] and have two children and four grandchildren.

Her daughter, Emmy Laybourne, is an author of a series of young adult novels called Monument 14 and is an actress who has appeared in Superstar and other films.[10][11] Her son Sam is a former child actor and an Emmy-nominated writer and producer on shows such as Black-ish, Arrested Development, Cougar Town, The Michael J. Fox Show and Grandfathered with John Stamos.[12][13]

Boards and memberships[edit]

  • 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[14]
  • 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[15]
  • Vital Voices, Advisor
Past positions


Works and publications[edit]

  • 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.


  1. ^ a b c d Genasci, Lisa (28 October 1995). "President of Nickelodeon Channels Her Resources: Television: President Geraldine Laybourne couples creativity and business acumen in making cable network top choice among children". Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press. p. D-4.
  2. ^ a b "The TV Column". 2019-10-10. Archived from the original on 2019-10-10. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  3. ^ Gross, Jane (21 April 2000). "Public Lives; From Childhood TV Fan to Master of Media". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d Gunzerath, David (2004). "Laybourne, Geraldine (1947-), U.S. Media Executive". In Newcomb, Horace (ed.). Encyclopedia of Television (2nd (2014) ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 1331–1332. ISBN 978-1-135-19479-6. OCLC 870978716.
  5. ^ Poniewozik, James (31 January 2000). "Television: Will Women Take A Breath Of Oxygen?". Time.
  6. ^ a b "World According to...Geraldine Laybourne". Business Journals. 24 January 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Geraldine Laybourne". 2010. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010.
  8. ^ Seller, Patricia (2010). "Patricia Sellers on Geraldine Laybourne and the 2009 Mentoring Walk". Vital Voices Global Partnership.
  9. ^ "Meet Emmy Laybourne, Daughter of Cable-TV Royalty", New York Observer, October 11, 1999. Accessed September 4, 2019. "She developed her geekiness and awkwardness when she was 11 and her family left Manhattan for Montclair, N.J."
  10. ^ "Meet Emmy Laybourne, Daughter of Cable-TV Royalty". Observer. 1999-10-11. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  11. ^ "YA Author Interview - An interview with Emmy Laybourne, author of MONUMENT 14 | Young Adult Mag". Young Entertainment. 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  12. ^ "Sam Laybourne". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (2015-05-14). "Sam Laybourne Inks Overall Deal With ABC Studios". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  14. ^ "Management Team: Symantec". Symantec.
  15. ^ "Trustee: Geraldine Bond Laybourne '69, P'93". Vassar College. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Oxygen founder leaves EA board of directors". Retrieved Apr 20, 2020.
  17. ^ "Cable Hall of Fame". The Cable Center. 2004.
  18. ^ "The Paley Center for Media: She Made It: Geraldine Laybourne". Paley Center for Media, She Made It. 2005. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  20. ^ Silverman, Rachel Emma (July 23, 1999). "The Glitziest Gathering Nobody Knows" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 3, 2019). "TV Academy Hall Of Fame Adding Bob Iger, Geraldine Laybourne, Seth MacFarlane, Jay Sandrich & Cicely Tyson". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "Geraldine Laybourne: Hall of Fame Tribute". Television Academy. Retrieved 2022-01-08.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by Nickelodeon president
Succeeded by