Monday 5 December 2016

Profile: The Harvard drop-out who went on to run empire

Published 29/02/2012 | 14:57

Born in London in 1972 as one of three children from Rupert's second marriage to Anna, James had an unusual start to his career.

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The youngest of the Murdoch brood, James went to school in New York at the Horace Mann School before getting a place at Harvard University.

But when James, now sporting an eyebrow stud and two tattoos including a lightbulb on his right arm, dropped out of Harvard in 1995 after just three terms into a film and history degree, he quickly gained a reputation as the "rebel" of the family. The reputation was cemented when he was caught sleeping at a press conference during a brief stint as a newspaper reporter in Australia.

After his departure from the Ivy League university he turned his hand to hip-hop, eventually selling his company Rawkus Records to his father in 1996. James Murdoch, whose middle name is Rupert, was then appointed head of News Corp's music and internet strategy the following year.

The company was making a small profit when it was bought by News Corporation and James returned to the family business as head of the firm's music division.

He ventured into the burgeoning dot.com market, investing in a series of internet ventures, and is credited by some for piquing Murdoch senior's interest in cyberspace.

But like many other dot.com investors, James met with indifferent results and News Corporation's foray into the market was short-lived.

James's mixed early performance did not dent his father's confidence in his abilities and in 2000 he was appointed chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation subsidiary Star TV.

He proved himself in the tough Asian pay TV market by rapidly improving the Hong Kong-based company's fortunes. Star moved into profit after building a strong presence in India and won "landing rights" in mainland China.

Cries of nepotism greeted his appointment in November 2003 as chief executive of BSkyB - the youngest head of a FTSE 100 company.

In December 2007 he was handed the task of leading his father's media empire in Europe and Asia with direct responsibility for the strategic and operational development of News Corporation's television, newspaper and related digital assets there and in the Middle East.

Four years later he took on the newly created post of deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation - the third most senior figure in the organisation.

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