Michael J. Kelly

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Michael J. Kelly
Born1957 (age 61–62)
ResidenceNew York, NY
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
University of Illinois
OccupationMedia executive
Years active1980–present
Known forEntertainment Weekly
Founder & CEO,
American Town Network
AOL Media Networks
President & CEO,
The Weather Channel Co
(2009-12) l
Spouse(s)Martha Hall Kelly

Michael J. "Mike" Kelly (born 1957)[1] is an American entrepreneur and media executive. He is the co-founder and CEO of KNV, a digital media investment and advisory firm. Prior to that, he was the president and CEO of The Weather Channel Companies, president of AOL Media Networks, and also held various executive positions at Time Warner and AOL.

Early life and education[edit]

Kelly was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.[2] His father, also named Michael J. Kelly, was a longtime advertising executive in Chicago and New York, and his great uncle was Edward Joseph Kelly, the mayor of Chicago from 1933 to 1947.[3]

Kelly attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign with a bachelor of arts in political science.[4]


Time Inc. and American Town Network (1980-2002)[edit]

After beginning his career at the Chicago Tribune in 1980, Kelly moved to Time Inc. in 1983, where he remained until 2000.[4] While there, he managed the Southeast and New York sales offices for Fortune magazine, before joining the launch team of Entertainment Weekly in 1989. He served as the magazine's publisher from 1996 until 2000,[4][5][6] and was twice named Publisher of the Year.[4][7]

In 2000, Kelly founded American Town Network, serving as CEO of the locally focused, community-based digital platform until 2002.[4] By 2009, American Town Network had become the largest "hyper-local" platform in the US.[2]

Time Warner and AOL (2002-07)[edit]

In 2002, two years after AOL and Time Warner merged,[8] Kelly was named president of global marketing for Time Warner.[9] He became the founding president of AOL Media Networks in 2004,[10] responsible for AOL's marketing and advertising.[9][5] While at AOL, Kelly oversaw the company's Web advertising buying spree,[11] including its June 2004 purchase of Advertising.com for $435 million.[12] He also oversaw AOL's partnership with Google,[13] and the company's acquisition of mobile ad firm Third Screen Media.[11] While he was at AOL, advertising and commerce revenue more than tripled, to over $2.2 billion.[13] He left AOL in 2007.

The Weather Channel (2009-12)[edit]

On July 20, 2009, shortly after The Weather Channel was sold by Landmark Communications to NBC Universal and private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone Group for $3.5 billion,[14] Kelly was named president and CEO of The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC).[7][9] He was responsible for the strategic direction and operations of The Weather Channel, The Weather Channel Interactive, weather.com and The Weather Channel Mobile, Weather Services International and Enterprise Electronics Corporation.[4]

Under Kelly, TWCC saw huge growth in its digital media business, specifically involving its mobile apps and data.[15] This growth would lead to IBM's 2015 purchase of The Weather Company's digital division for an undisclosed sum.[16][17] Kelly also oversaw the addition of taped reality shows and documentaries, which were not always directly connected to weather. This change improved the channel's ratings, but was said to alienate some fans who preferred strictly weather-related programming.[18]

Kelly left TWCC in 2012, becoming a special advisor to TWCC and Bain Capital.[15]

Other work[edit]

Since 2004, Kelly has served as a board member of The Kelly Gang, a media-centric group of executives who have raised money through annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations.[6]

From 2007 to 2009, he was an advisor to media-focused private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson.[7][19] He also served on the board of numerous digital media companies, including Eyeblaster, VisibleWorld, ContextWeb and American Town Network.[20] He is on the board of directors of the American Advertising Federation, where he twice chaired the Advertising Hall of Fame, and has previously served on the Ad Council.[21] Since 2011, he has sat on the board of councilors at the Carter Center in Atlanta.[22]

In 2012, Kelly was named chairman of cloud-based media planning software company ColSpace, becoming lead investor in 2014.[23] On May 19, 2016, Colspace was acquired by Mediaocean (owned by Vista Equity Partners).[24] Also in 2012, Kelly joined London-based media advertising company Unruly Media as non-executive lead director, later being named chairman.[13][25] On September 16, 2015, it was announced that Unruly would be purchased by News Corp for $176 million.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly's wife, Martha Hall Kelly, is a writer whose debut novel, Lilac Girls, was published by Ballantine Books in 2016.[27]


  1. ^ Jeffrey Scott, "Weather Channel taps former AOL exec as new chief," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Michael J. Kelly Named President/CEO of The Weather Channel Companies," The Weather Company, July 20, 2009.
  3. ^ Kenan Heise, "Michael J. Kelly, 73, 40-year Advertising Exec," Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1990.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Chris Ariens, "Michael J. Kelly Named CEO of The Weather Channel," Adweek, July 20, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Louise Story, "Moving Downtown: AOL Seeks New Image," New York Times, September 18, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Steve Cohn, "Michael J. Kelly (ex-Time Inc.) Is Out as Weather Channel CEO," Min Online, January 25, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Bill Carter, "A New Chief Executive at the Weather Channel," New York Times, July 20, 2009.
  8. ^ Noah Davis, "Where Are They Now: The Executives Behind The AOL-Time Warner Merger," Business Insider, November 16, 2011.
  9. ^ a b c Kevin Kingsbury, "Weather Channel Taps Former AOL Executive, Michael Kelly, as CEO," Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2009.
  10. ^ D.M. Levine, "The Weather Channel Names New CEO," Adweek, January 24, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Dan Frommer, "Ex-AOL Media Boss Mike Kelly Hired As Weather Channel CEO," Business Insider, July 21, 2009.
  12. ^ David A. Vise, "AOL Buying Advertising.com," Washington Post, June 24, 2004.
  13. ^ a b c Mike Kelly, VB Profiles. Accessed September 9, 2016.
  14. ^ Joe Flint, "Facetime: Weather Channel chief paints rosy company forecast," Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Staci D. Kramer, "David Kenny Replacing Mike Kelly As CEO Of The Weather Channel Companies," Gigaom, January 24, 2012.
  16. ^ David Goldman, "IBM buys digital part of Weather Channel," CNN Money, October 28, 2015.
  17. ^ Katie Richards, "IBM Grows Big Data Capabilities After It Officially Acquires Weather Company Properties," Adweek, January 29, 2016.
  18. ^ Brian Stelter, "Weather Channel's Parent Company Is Renamed," New York Times, October 21, 2012.
  19. ^ Nellie Andreeva, "Michael J. Kelly to head TWCC," The Hollywood Reporter, July 20, 2009.
  20. ^ Wayne Friedman, "Kelly Takes Helm At Weather Channel," MediaPost, July 20, 2009.
  21. ^ "Michael J. Kelly/The Weather Channel Co.," Irish America, December 2011.
  22. ^ "Carter Center Appoints New Members to Board of Councilors," The Carter Center, May 30, 2011.
  23. ^ Peter Kafka, "Media Planning Company ColSpace Lands AOL/Time Warner Exec Mike Kelly as Chairman," Recode, October 13, 2014.
  24. ^ "Mediaocean Acquires Industry Leading Media Planning Tool ColSpace," PR Newswire, May 19, 2016.
  25. ^ "Ex-Weather Channel CEO Mike Kelly Joins Board At Unruly," adotas.com, September 17, 2012.
  26. ^ Natasha Lomas, "News Corp To Buy Unruly For $176M To Drive More Video Ad Views," TechCrunch, September 16, 2015.
  27. ^ Michael Callahan, "Shadows of War," New York Times, May 27, 2016.

External links[edit]