Nielsen Names Former IBM Executive David Kenny As Its New CEO

Measurement giant Nielsen Holdings has picked David Kenny as its new CEO, succeeding Mitch Barns, who had announced his retirement after 22 years at the company.

David Kenny

Kenny will join Nielsen from IBM, where he led the tech company’s Cognitive Solutions unit and helped develop IBM Watson and lead cloud computing efforts. He starts at Nielsen on┬áDecember 3 and will have a bit of overlap with Barns, whose exit is effective December 31.

Along with announcing the CEO, Nielsen said its board is continuing to conduct a previously announced strategic review, which could result in a number of outcomes, including a reorganization of the company’s business units or even a sale of the entire company. Nielsen has engaged outside advisers to guide the process and said it would “provide further updates as appropriate.”

Before IBM, Kenny was Chairman and CEO of The Weather Co., joining IBM after their acquisition of The Weather Co.’s Product and Technology business. He also had stints at Akamai, Digitas and Bain & Co.

James Attwood, executive chairman of Nielsen, praised Kenny’s “decades of experience in Big Data, artificial intelligence, cloud technologies and media,” all of which make him “perfectly suited to lead Nielsen at this critical time.”

Kenny said the company is “uniquely placed at the intersection of marketing data and technology. In today’s era of fast moving, ever changing consumers and markets, it is this combination that drives businesses forward.”

Nielsen’s stock has fallen nearly 30% in 2018 to date as the company continues to face pressure in its TV measurement business and other segments. The company retains a dominant position over rival comScore in the delivery of TV ratings and has moved to expand into streaming and other digital areas where clients have significant investments at stake.

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