Michael W. Ferro Jr.

Michael W. Ferro Jr. (born July 24, 1966) is an American businessman and former chairman of the Board of Directors of Tribune Publishing (formerly Tronc, Inc.), the third-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.[1] In March 2018, he retired from Tribune Publishing and started Merrick Ventures LLC, a Chicago-based private equity firm.[2] He had been the chairman of Tribune since early 2016.[3] Ferro is the founder and CEO of Merrick Ventures. As a businessman, Ferro is also known for founding the Internet software company, Click Commerce.[4]

Michael W. Ferro Jr.
Chairman of Tribune Publishing
In office
2016  March 2018
Succeeded byJustin Dearborn
Personal details
BornJuly 24, 1966
Merrick, New York, United States
Spouse(s)Jacqueline J. Ferro (1996-present)
ResidenceChicago, Illinois, United States
Alma materUniversity of Illinois, Chicago
OccupationFounder & CEO of Merrick Ventures

Multiple patent holder for diagnostic imaging,[5] from 2008 until 2015, Ferro served as the chairman of NASDAQ company Merge Healthcare that was acquired by IBM in October 2015. From 2011 until early 2016, he served as the Chairman of Wrapports LLC. Residing in Chicago, Illinois, Ferro was allegedly involved in sexual harassment of two women in March 2018 followed by his retirement.[6]

Early career

Michael W. Ferro Jr. was born in 1966 in Merrick, New York, and went on to grow up in Illinois. At the age of 15, while attending high school, Ferro started his first company, Earth Wood Care (EWC). He continued to develop and operate the company full-time while attending the University of Illinois Chicago. Earth Wood Care was acquired by Lisle-based Pettibone in 1992.[7] Ferro joined Pettibone at the time of the transaction, and at the age of 25, became the company’s youngest division president.[8] He devised a plan for the company to place its inventory and price sheets on the Internet so customers could process their own orders, a revolutionary concept for the manufacturing industry at the time.[7]

Click Commerce

In 1994, Ferro left Pettibone to establish Click Commerce,[9] a company that provides business application software and related services.[10] At the age of 33, Ferro took Click Commerce public.[11] With an Initial Public Offering date of June 30, 2000, Click Commerce was one of the first tech companies to reopen the market after the tech crash in March of that year.[12]

Ferro’s success in his early career made him one of the youngest people named to the Forbes "Tech’s 100 Highest Rollers" list.[13] During this time, Ferro was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization,[14] and won the KPMG Illinois High Tech award[15] as well as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Technology award.

Merrick Ventures

Ferro founded Merrick Ventures LLC, a private equity firm that connects investors with Chicago’s tech companies.[2] As the chairman and CEO of Merrick Ventures, Ferro is the founding chairman of Wrapports LLC which is the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, Higi LLC, Chicago.com LLC and highschoolcube.com. In February 2016, Merrick Ventures invested $44.4 million in the Chicago-based company Tribune Publishing, which is the parent company of the Chicago Tribune. This made Ferro and Merrick Ventures the then top shareholder of Tribune Publishing with nearly a 17 percent stake in the company.[16]

Technology community

In 2005, Ferro was named co-chairman of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center alongside Jim O’Connor Jr. During this time, he served on the Mayor’s Council of Technology Advisors under Mayor Richard M. Daley[17] and founded the Merrick Momentum Awards, an annual event to honor the top three-year-old Chicago corporations.[18]

Ferro is the co-founder of the Illinois Accelerator (I2a) Fund launched in 2007.[19] In 2014, Ferro donated $2 million to build an incubator space for student entrepreneurs in a new project called "The Garage" located within Northwestern University.[4]

2016 Olympic Bid for Chicago

In 2006, Ferro was the Chairman of the Sports Advisory Council, a board of corporate citizens named by Mayor Richard M. Daley, to lead the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.[20] Ferro and his wife, Jacky, co-chaired an event that raised 12 million dollars in one night for the Chicago 2016 bid.[21]

Philanthropy

The Michael and Jackie Ferro Foundation donated $1 million to the Capital Gazette Families Fund, to aid the families of victims of the newsroom shooting on 28 June 2018.[22]

Controversy

In March 2018, Ferro was allegedly involved in sexual harassment of two women - Kathryn Minshew, the founder of career website The Muse and Hagan Kappler. Kathryn Minshew accused Ferro of luring her to a corporate apartment in Chicago in 2013 and making sexual advances toward her.[23] Hagan Kappler, while working for the firm Ingersoll Rand, claims to have been sexually assaulted by Ferro in a Las Vegas hotel suite in early 2016.[23][24]

Ferro resigned a few hours before the news about these allegations were published in media.[23][24][25]

References

  1. "Newsonomics: As McClatchy teeters, a new set of money men enters the news industry spotlight". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  2. Shia Kapos (March 15, 2010). "Ferro's Merrick Fund Draws Chicago Business Titans". Crain’s Chicago Business.
  3. Ember, Sydney (2018-03-19). "Michael Ferro Steps Down as Tronc's Chairman; Accused of Unwanted Advances". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-27.
  4. John Pletz (March 18, 2014). "Ryan, Ferro to Donate $4 Million to Launch Northwestern Incubator". Crain’s Chicago Business.
  5. Patents by Inventor Michael W. Ferro, JR. Justia Patents
  6. "Former Tronc Chairman and Investor Michael Ferro Accused of Inappropriate Advances by Two Women". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  7. "40 Under 40". Crain’s Chicago Business. November 2, 1998.
  8. "Executive Profile: Michael W. Ferro Jr". Bloomberg Businessweek.
  9. Margaret Littman (November 10, 1997). "Executive's 'Extranet' Concept Clicks with Clients". Crain’s Chicago Business.
  10. "Click Commerce Software Selected by UCCnet as Foundation for Internet Transactions". PR Newswire. August 30, 2004.
  11. "Click Commerce, Inc". Securities and Exchange Commission. June 6, 2000.
  12. "Marvell climbs 278% in market debut - Jun. 27, 2000". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  13. Clint Willis (April 2, 2001). "Tech's 100 Highest Rollers". Forbes.
  14. "CEO Hall of Fame". Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13.
  15. "Click Commerce CEO, Michael W. Ferro Jr., Awarded KPMG's Illinois High Tech Award". PR Newswire. November 20, 2000.
  16. Channick, Robert. "Tribune Publishing's top shareholder is now Michael Ferro, owner of Chicago Sun-Times". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  17. "Letter From Chicago". Big Bamboo. Archived from the original on 2014-06-23.
  18. "Need to Know: CEC Momentum Awards Dinner - SPLASH". SPLASH. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  19. "Chicago's Business Leaders Collaborate to Create, Invest and Manage the $10 Million Illinois Innovation Accelerator (i2A) Fund". PR Newswire. February 26, 2011.
  20. Greg Hinz (June 22, 2006). "Daley Names Corporate Leaders to Olympic Panel". Crain’s Chicago Business.
  21. Shia Kapos (July 15, 2008). "Taking Names: See Who Gave Big Money for Chicago 2016". Crain’s Chicago Business.
  22. Ferro Foundation makes $1 million gift to Capital Gazette Families Fund Orlando Sentinel Retrieved 27 September 2018
  23. Channick, Robert. "Michael Ferro steps down as Tronc chairman hours before sexual misconduct allegations published". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  24. Moise, Imani; Alpert, Lukas I. (March 19, 2018). "Tronc's Michael Ferro Retires After Los Angeles Times Sale". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  25. "Michael Ferro Steps Down as Tronc's Chairman; Accused of Unwanted Advances". The New York Times. March 19, 2018. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
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