Michael W. Ferro Jr.

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Michael W. Ferro Jr.
Born (1966-07-24) July 24, 1966 (age 52)
Merrick, New York, U.S.
Residence Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater University of Illinois, Chicago
Occupation Founder & CEO of Merrick Ventures
Spouse(s) Jacqueline J. Ferro (1996-present)

Michael W. Ferro Jr. (born July 24, 1966) is an American businessman and the largest shareholder and former Non-Executive Chairman of the United States' third-largest newspaper publisher Tronc.[citation needed] In March 2018, he retired from Tronc amid sexual harassment allegations published by Fortune magazine.[1]

As an inventor, investor and philanthropist, Ferro is also known for founding the Internet software company Click Commerce.[2] He is also the founder and CEO of Merrick Ventures LLC, a Chicago-based private equity firm.[3]

From 2008 until 2015, Ferro served as the chairman of NASDAQ company Merge Healthcare, that was acquired by IBM in October 2015. From 2011 until early 2016, Ferro served as the Chairman of Wrapports LLC. On February 4, 2016, it was announced that Ferro became the largest shareholder and non-executive chairman of Tribune Publishing after driving home a $44-million deal via his investment firm Merrick Media.[citation needed]

Early career[edit]

Michael W. Ferro Jr. was born in 1966 in Merrick, New York, and went on to grow up in Illinois. At the age of 15, while attending high school, Ferro started his first company, Earth Wood Care (EWC). Ferro continued to develop and operate the company full-time while attending the University of Illinois Chicago.

Earth Wood Care was acquired by Lisle-based Pettibone in 1992.[4] Ferro joined Pettibone at the time of the transaction, and at the age of 25, became the company’s youngest division president,[5] and devised a plan for the company to place its inventory and price sheets on the Internet so customers could process their own orders, a revolutionary concept for the manufacturing industry at the time.[4]

Ferro currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Click Commerce[edit]

In 1994, Ferro left Pettibone to found Click Commerce,[6] a company that provides business application software and related services.[7] Ferro’s success early in his career made him one of the youngest people named to the Forbes "Tech’s 100 Highest Rollers" list.[8] During this time, Ferro was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization,[9] and won the KPMG Illinois High Tech award[10] as well as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology award.

At the age of 33, Ferro took Click Commerce public.[11]

Merrick Ventures[edit]

Ferro founded Merrick Ventures LLC, a private equity firm that connects some of the nation’s most powerful investors with Chicago’s budding tech companies.[3] As the chairman and CEO of Merrick Ventures, Ferro is the founding chairman of Wrapports LLC and Higi.

Technology community[edit]

Named co-chairman of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center alongside Jim O’Connor Jr. in 2005,[12] During this time, Ferro served on the Mayor’s Council of Technology Advisors under Mayor Richard M. Daley[13]

Ferro is Co-Founder of the Illinois Accelerator (I2a) Fund launched in 2007.[14]

2016 Olympic Bid for Chicago[edit]

In 2006, Ferro was the Chairman of the Sports Advisory Council, a board of corporate citizens named by Mayor Richard M. Daley, to lead the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.[15] Ferro and his wife, Jacky, co-chaired an event that raised 12 million dollars in one night for the Chicago 2016 bid.[16]

Allegations of sexual harassment and assault[edit]

In March 2018, Fortune published a story detailing the accounts of two women who accused Ferro of sexual harassment.[1] One woman, Kathryn Minshew, the founder of career website The Muse, accused Ferro of luring her to a corporate apartment in Chicago in 2013, where she believed she and Ferro would come to terms on a round of funding for the budding startup. There, Ferro made sexual advances toward Minshew, which she refused.[17] The funding deal never went through.

Hagan Kappler, while working for the firm Ingersoll Rand, says she was sexually assaulted by Ferro in a Las Vegas hotel suite in early 2016.[17][18] This followed reports of meetings between Kappler and Ferro in which he made reference to strippers and actively degraded women. Following his assault on Kappler, Ferro also reportedly told her that she was not required to sleep with people in order to succeed in business, but that she did need to flirt and "suck dick."[19]

Ferro resigned a few hours before the Fortune article was published.[17][18][20]

Film production[edit]

Ferro served as Executive Producer, alongside Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian,[21] for Kartemquin Films’ documentary film Life Itself about the Chicago Sun-Times film critic, Roger Ebert. It was directed by Steve James.[22]


  1. ^ a b "Former Tronc Chairman and Investor Michael Ferro Accused of Inappropriate Advances by Two Women". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-06-05. 
  2. ^ John Pletz (March 18, 2014). "Ryan, Ferro to Donate $4 Million to Launch Northwestern Incubator". Crain’s Chicago Business. 
  3. ^ a b Shia Kapos (March 15, 2010). "Ferro's Merrick Fund Draws Chicago Business Titans". Crain’s Chicago Business. 
  4. ^ a b "40 Under 40". Crain’s Chicago Business. November 2, 1998. 
  5. ^ "Executive Profile: Michael W. Ferro Jr". Bloomberg Businessweek. 
  6. ^ Margaret Littman (November 10, 1997). "Executive's 'Extranet' Concept Clicks with Clients". Crain’s Chicago Business. 
  7. ^ "Click Commerce Software Selected by UCCnet as Foundation for Internet Transactions". PR Newswire. August 30, 2004. 
  8. ^ Clint Willis (April 2, 2001). "Tech's 100 Highest Rollers". Forbes. 
  9. ^ "CEO Hall of Fame". Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. 
  10. ^ "Click Commerce CEO, Michael W. Ferro Jr., Awarded KPMG's Illinois High Tech Award". PR Newswire. November 20, 2000. 
  11. ^ "Click Commerce, Inc". Securities and Exchange Commission. June 6, 2000. 
  12. ^ PR Newswire (July 18, 2005). "Tech Entrepreneur Michael W. Ferro Jr. Named Co-Chairman of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center's Board of Directors". SOA World Magazine. 
  13. ^ "Letter From Chicago". Big Bamboo. Archived from the original on 2014-06-23. 
  14. ^ "Chicago's Business Leaders Collaborate to Create, Invest and Manage the $10 Million Illinois Innovation Accelerator (i2A) Fund". PR Newswire. February 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ Greg Hinz (June 22, 2006). "Daley Names Corporate Leaders to Olympic Panel". Crain’s Chicago Business. 
  16. ^ Shia Kapos (July 15, 2008). "Taking Names: See Who Gave Big Money for Chicago 2016". Crain’s Chicago Business. 
  17. ^ a b c Channick, Robert. "Michael Ferro steps down as Tronc chairman hours before sexual misconduct allegations published". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  18. ^ a b Moise, Imani; Alpert, Lukas I. (March 19, 2018). "Tronc's Michael Ferro Retires After Los Angeles Times Sale". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  19. ^ "Former Tronc Chairman and Investor Michael Ferro Accused of Inappropriate Advances by Two Women". Fortune. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Michael Ferro Steps Down as Tronc's Chairman; Accused of Unwanted Advances". The New York Times. March 19, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2018. 
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (February 4, 2014). "Roger Ebert Documentary 'Life Itself' Gets U.S. Distribution". Variety. 
  22. ^ "Life Itself". Life Itself).