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Social Networking Through Time: The Hearst Boys

The Hearst Family: Generations of Networking Success

What does it look like when you view a lineage of sons whose grandfather started down the path of words, newspapers and a global reach? It looks like the start of a Networld that will last generations. I love to look at networks. I am now reading the biography of William Randolph Hearst. It’s an older book but what makes the reading so enjoyable is that it’s “real.” I like “real” stories, especially when they are great stories. Because I am into networks and publishing I thought it would be a very interesting read to see what one man was able to create with money, some time and a network.

The Father: William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst: The Late Years, 1911-1951William Randolph Hearst [From Wikipedia] (April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher.[1] Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father. Moving to New York City, he acquired The New York Journal and engaged in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer‘s New York World which led to the creation of yellow journalism—sensationalized stories of dubious veracity. Acquiring more newspapers, Hearst created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak. He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world.

He was twice elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, but ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, for Governor of New York in 1906, and for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1910. Nonetheless, through his newspapers and magazines, he exercised enormous political influence, and is sometimes credited with pushing public opinion in the United States into a war with Spain in 1898.

His life story was a source of inspiration for the development of the lead character in Orson Welles‘ classic film Citizen Kane.[2] His mansion, Hearst Castle, near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, and is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours. Hearst formally named the estate La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Slope”), but he usually just called it “the ranch”.

The Son: William Randolph Hearst Jr.

William Randolph Hearst Jr.

William Randolph Hearst Jr., [From Wikipedia] attended the University of California, Berkeley and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

He was instrumental in restoring some measure of family control to the Hearst Corporation, which under his father’s will is (and will continue to be while any grandchild alive at William Randolph Hearst Sr.’s death in 1951 is still living) controlled by a board of thirteen trustees, five from the Hearst family and eight Hearst executives. When tax laws changed to prevent the foundations his father had established from continuing to own the corporation, he arranged for the family trust (with the same trustees) to buy the shares and for longtime chief executive Richard E. Berlin, who was going senile, to be eased out to become chairman of the trustees for a period. Later William Randolph Hearst Jr. himself headed the trust and served as chairman of the executive committee of the corporation. Today his branch of the family is represented on the trustees by his son William Randolph Hearst III.

The Grandson: William Randolph Hearst III

William Randolph Hearst III

William Randolph Hearst III [From Wikipedia] (born June 18, 1949) became president of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in early 2003. Son of William Randolph Hearst, Jr. and grandson of William Randolph Hearst, Hearst is also director of the Hearst Corporation.

Hearst has a son, William Dedalus Hearst, and three daughters, Adelaide, Caroline and Eliza.

Hearst graduated from Harvard University in 1972 with an AB degree in mathematics. He spent years as an employee of the Hearst Corporation, eventually as editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner. His grandfather had also headed that paper, though his father had been publisher of the New York Journal American. In some television commercials Hearst III was shown having a conversation with his grandfather’s portrait. (In fact, he was only two when his grandfather died.)

In 1976 he left the company to become the managing editor of Outside magazine which was then being started by the Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner. Hearst returned to the company and newspaper work in 1980.

In 1992 he again left his job at the company, remaining on the board of directors. The following year he succeeded his father as a trustee of the trust that controls the company and chooses the directors.

In 1996 Hearst was a co-founder of the @Home Network Broadband Internet service with Milo Medin, cable companies TCIComcast and Cox Cable where he served as the company’s first Chief Executive Officer.[1]

In 1995 Hearst was named partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,[2] where he continues to serve today. He sits on several Boards of Directors of companies in which the firm has investments, including Hearst-Argyle Television.[3] He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Juniper Networks until May 2008.


So what do you think when you look at this interesting lineage? Lines like “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” springs to my mind. By looking at the influence each father had on his son you can see the possibility of a future for William Dedalus Hearst, born 05 02 1979, William Randolph Hearst III’s son . . . or not. Will he follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather? Only time will tell, but just looking at the network for these “men of words” I believe we will continue to see the Hearsts connected to digital networks.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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