CNN Chief's 15-Year-Old Son Leaves His Advisory Role at Cory Booker's Start-Up
The New York Times' report on Cory Booker's weird relationship with video-sharing start-up Waywire had few details odder than that the company's groups of advisors included Andrew Zucker — the 15 year-old son of CNN head Jeff Zucker. It used to, anyway,
Two things jumped out at many readers of The New York Times' report on Newark Mayor Cory Booker's weird relationship with video-sharing start-up Waywire. The first was that Booker, a co-founder, valued his stake in the site, which had a reported 2,200 visitors last month, at $1 million … minimum. The second was that the company's group of advisors included Andrew Zucker — the 15-year-old son of CNN head Jeff Zucker. At least one of those things has been addressed. After The Times report in Wednesday's paper, young Zucker resigned his position.
Waywire is essentially a site offering custom-curated YouTube channels, each of which includes videos on a particular theme. Booker's Waywire page (or, rather, "#waywire" page, it seems) includes a collection of videos focused on the civil rights movement, one on Earth Day, and so on. Andrew Zucker, still identified on the site as an "advisor" doesn't seem to have created a channel. (The site does list his hashtagged interests: #baseball, #technology, #newyork.)
Fortune reports that his advisory tenure has come to an end. It also indicates how he came to be involved in the first place.
Andrew Zucker's involvement seems to have first stemmed from a conversation that Sarah Ross had with an existing Waywire advisor, who had heard that the kid had a knack for spotting tech adoption trends among teens. For example, Andrew and a small group of his friends were known to informally advise his father on such matters, such as why some young people would be interested in the Vine video service but not in Twitter's traditional text service.
Andrew Zucker pointed out that kids like Vine. That insight earned him a spot as an advisor to Waywire — and some stock options. At the time that he got the gig, Hollywood Reporter noted:
“People described him to me as the Doogie Howser of start-ups,” Waywire co-founder Sarah Ross told The Financial Times, referring to the teenage doctor portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris. “He’s a start-up savant.”
The story notes that Andrew will be paid in options. Among his reasons for taking the gig, he noted that shorter clips are becoming a bigger focus for web content. “Micro-content is really big among my friends," said Zucker.
Booker, Fortune reports, was "not involved at all" in the decision that Zucker be given the position. The Times also reported that Booker's involvement in the company, as indicated on the conflict-of-interest forms he completed prior to his run for Senate (above), was worth somewhere between $1 million and $5 million. It's not clear how that figure was determined. Part of Booker's role was to help raise capital for the company, something that The Times suggests ended up at around $1.75 million. Those deals usually place a valuation on the company.
None of this is likely to have much effect on Booker's prospects in New Jersey's senate primary next week. A poll from Quinnipiac University has him up by 37 points.
Correction: The article originally referred to Zucker's role as board member. He was instead a compensated advisor.
Photo: File image of Cory Booker. (AP)