As one of the only executives to have run every type of major media company including music, technology, film and television, Strauss Zelnick is a leading expert in all facets of the media industry. Under Zelnick’s leadership, BMG Entertainment’s success in North America included the remarkable ongoing performance of Arista Records, one of the world’s leading record labels, and the establishment of RCA Records as one of the industry’s hottest creative homes with acts like Christina Aguilera and the Dave Mathews Band.
Before moving on to music and gaming, Zelnick began his media career in film. He was President of Vestron Inc. in 1987 when the company produced Dirty Dancing, the most successful independent film of the time. He went on to become President of 20th Century Fox, where he was involved with the hits Home Alone, War of the Roses and Sleeping with the Enemy. In his newest venture, ZelnickMedia, Zelnick is capitalizing on his varied breadth of experience to create a dynamic and diverse media company. ZelnickMedia is seeking out companies with strong operations and opportunities and helping them to succeed by infusing them with capital, management expertise and strategic direction.
Zelnick believes that the success of any organization, and of any actor within that organization, is driven by sales, not just the selling of products to customers, but the selling of the mission to employees, investors and other stakeholders. His philosophy is built on the principle that consumer behavior is not static, but evolves over time. Zelnick believes that the best way to succeed in a highly competitive environment is to stay true to proven models while always keeping on eye trained on future trends.
Zelnick was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of BMG Entertainment following his tenure as President and Chief Executive officer of the company’s North American business unit from 1994 through 1998. Before joining BMG Entertainment, Zelnick was President and Chief Executive Officer of Crystal Dynamics, a leading producer and distributor of interactive entertainment software. Prior to that, he spent four years as President and Chief Operating Officer of 20th Century Fox where he managed all aspects of the worldwide motion picture and distribution business. Previously, he spent three years at Vestron Inc. as a senior executive and rose to become President and Chief Operating Officer. Zelnick also served as Vice President, International Television for Columbia Pictures.
Zelnick holds an M.B.A. and a J.D. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. He was an associate member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and served on the Board of Directors of the Recording Industry Association of America. Zelnick currently serves on the boards of Insignia Financial Group, Inc., Carver Bancorp, Inc., UGO Networks Inc. and On2.com. He also serves on the boards of trustees of Wesleyan University and WNYC.