Rupert Murdoch's youngest son is stepping down from the company's British newspaper division as revelations about phone hacking and bribery continue to emerge. Here's a look back at Murdoch's years-long tumble.
It probably all started in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when James was an irascible Harvard undergrad who dropped out to start a record label. In the next decade and a half, the younger Murdoch has moved up and down within News Corp., sometimes acting as the heir apparent, at other times the black sheep. What follows is a timeline, dotted with failures, stained with scandals and, occasionally, punctuated with victories great and small. Try not to be too pessimistic about James' career, though. He's only 39, and if his 80-year-old father's longevity (not to mention his grandmother's, who's still sassy at 103), he has a long career ahead of him.
1995 - James drops out of Harvard to found Rawkus Records with two of his classmates, Brian Bater and Jarret Myer. You might know Rawkus as the label that launched Mos Def and Talib Kweli's careers.
1996 - James joins News Corp. to run one of its music divisions, Festival Records, in Australia. The then 24-year-old chairman ends up getting really into the Internet, leading to the company investing in some start-ups. Eventually, News Corp. bought MySpace, but we'll get to that in a sec.
1998 - News Corp. buys Rawkus.
2000 - In the midst of his coming to understand the Internet and coping with his inevitable exit from the music business, James helps Rupert with the launch of Maximum Golf, a sort of lads mag for young golfers.
2001 - Maximum Golf does not succeed. Only a year after it launched, it folds and leaves James to find a new pet project.
2003 - After a couple years of playing in the music business and a few running News Corp.'s Asian satellite television company, James is appointed director of BSkyB, the satellite TV company, which News Corp. owns a controlling share. He would controversially be awarded the title of chief executive officer by the end of the year. This would be the beginning of a troublesome decade for the young Murdoch.
2005 - In July, News Corp. buys MySpace for $580 million. That same month, James the Younger becomes the heir apparent of his father's media empire, when his older brother Lachlan abruptly resigns from News Corp.'s deputy chief operating officer. This is also the year that the phone hacking scandal begins, after some reporters are caught spying on the Royals. The newspaper involved, The News of the World, was not then under James's control.
2007 - James gets a promotion. He's named CEO of BSkyB and also put in charge of News Corp.'s newspaper division, including News International, and digital properties in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Though he prefers New York, James works out of the News Corp. offices in East London.
2008 - MySpace becomes an epic failure for News Corp. It was in 2008 that Facebook passes MySpace in traffic, and as a result, Zuckerberg's social network starts to drag all of MySpace's advertisers away from News Corp. Accordingly, MySpace begins to fade into irrelevancy.
2009 - The phone hacking scandal returns. In July, The Guardian publishes details of News of the World's paying million dollar settlements to some soccer players over phone hacking. This is also the year that Rebekah Brooks gets promoted to chief executive of News International, meaning that she'd be working much more closely with James. James, in unrelated news, is asked to join the board of directors of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
2011 - Things fall apart. Only a couple of months after he's appointed deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. -- this is a big job for young James but it's also one that allows him to spend more time in New York City, where the corporation keeps its headquarters -- The Guardian reveals that News of the World reporters hacked into a murdered girl's phone. One outrage leads to another, and eventually James decides to close down the pape. Over the course of the year, James testified before Parliament twice, watched his planned takeover of BSkyB disintegrate, left the boards of News International's various newspapers.
January 2012 - In an apparent attempt to sever his ties with London, James resigns from the board of GlaxoSmithKlein.
February 2012 - James leaves News International altogether and returns to New York, where he "will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations," according to News Corp.'s release this morning.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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