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Just Hired!

From the MTA to IAC, this fall’s new masters of various city universes.

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Ben Silverman, now backed by IAC.  

Ben Silverman
The gig: Making web-ready adver-television for Barry Diller’s IAC.

His résumé: The self-described rock-star television executive was plucked from a hot run producing The Office and The Biggest Loser (through his company Reveille) to become the co-chairman of NBC Universal Entertainment at 36, in 2007. But he wasn’t the revolutionary hit-maker he’d been signed to be, and NBC declined to renew his contract this summer. I got an incredible MBA at General Electric, he says jokingly, perhaps in a nod to the sense that, in a way, he got schooled.

His mission: To create the industry’s first global platform that connects advertisers, distributors, and content creators early on in the development process, according to IAC. Which means? We’re basically breaking down all of the silos that currently exist between the advertising, creative infrastructure, and distribution platforms, and then building a new form of advertising network in coordination with the traditional and the new-media outlets, he says, not really clarifying things. He’ll be based in L.A. but expects to have offices here too.

His challenges: He’ll remain with NBC until mid-September, overseeing the start of the fall season, in particular the launch of Jay Leno’s prime-time show, which he championed. Then it’s time to set aside the bluster and try to figure out what it means, practically, to respect the desires of advertisers who want the ability to really be part of the cultural conversation, not just the advertising while producing something people will actually want to enjoy, be it on Facebook or an NBC-type broadcaster. While Diller was an early investor in Reveille, IAC has indicated that the project could later have other investors. Silverman is officially undaunted. To launch something new, but big, being backed by and in partnership with IAC, he says, is just awesome.



George Canellos
The gig: The new head of the New York office of the SEC, he’ll be in charge of saving Wall Street (and the rest of us) from itself.

His résumé: Since 2003, he has been a partner at law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Before that, he spent nine years as a criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, during which time he became chief of the major-crimes unit. He oversaw the prosecution of money manager Alan Bond, who was sentenced to twelve years for stealing more than $6 million from his clients.

His mission: He was brought in by new SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro under new enforcement director Robert Khuzami to clean up the beat. Under Khuzami, the agency is being redesigned to be less bureaucratic and more proactive. With the SEC facing criticism for its many failures (like overlooking Bernie Madoff), Canellos wants to use a risk-based approach to identify money-management firms that lack third-party oversight. As a former prosecutor, he’s familiar with enforcement tools Khuzami has newly instituted at the SEC, such as according leniency to cooperative parties like whistle-blowers, offering deferred prosecution agreements, and utilizing broader subpoena power.

His challenge: Avoiding unnecessary overlap between his office and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s. It is an important goal of mine to ensure that we not just cooperate with one another in investigations but that we are not doing the same work, he says. Historically, what a lot of people refer to as cooperation is two regulators seeking the same information, seeking to question the same witnesses, and seeking similar remedies against the same parties. I think that can be a waste of resources.


Sallie Krawcheck
The gig: Running Merrill Lynch’s bummed-out bulls, as Bank of America’s head of global wealth management.

Her résumé: The former head of wealth management at Citigroup, she rose to chief financial officer in 2004, making her one of the most powerful women on Wall Street. Later, she reportedly feuded with CEO Vikram Pandit over whether the bank’s investors should be compensated for losses at two Citi-sponsored hedge funds that had tanked (she said they should), and was forced out. Her old boss Sanford Weill reportedly put in a good word for her to Bank of America’s chief marketing officer, Ann M. Finucane, with whom Weill and Krawcheck sit on the board of Carnegie Hall.

Her mission: Krawcheck was dubbed the last honest analyst by Fortune in 2002, when she was research director at Sanford C. Bernstein, and her job at Merrill is to restore client trust so that the herd can get back to thundering and making the bank money.

Her challenge: She joined the bank on the very same day it settled with the SEC over allegations that it had made false statements to shareholders regarding bonus-payout arrangements made during its acquisition of Merrill. The bank neither admitted nor denied the charges, but agreed to pay $33 million in penalties.



Fall Preview 2009

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