Seasoned WME agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh is shifting to a new role at the agency. She will focus on live events and continue developing Together Live, a separate business she founded and co-owns with the agency.
Walsh, who rose through the lit department and has branched out into representing speakers and conferences in nearly two decades at the company, opted to step away from day-to-day agenting. In recent years, after a strong run leading William Morris and then William Morris Endeavor to the top lit ranks, she handled tours for notable talent like Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington.
The move follows last Friday’s 11th-hour abandonment by Endeavor of its long-nurtured plan to stage an initial public offering. While the company, which owns WME and a range of other businesses, still hopes to find a favorable time in 2020 to hit the public markets, the IPO climate had worsened considerably in recent months.
Because many employees have tied their compensation to the presumed stock offering, the threat of staffers defecting out of frustration is a real one. Companies on the verge of going public, especially tech firms like Airbnb, have faced considerable internal turmoil after delaying their IPOs. At the same time, a person familiar with Walsh’s situation tells Deadline it was unrelated to the IPO fizzle. Endeavor is in the midst of working out the mechanics of a stock buyback program for employees, with updates planned to roll out in the coming months.
Together Live is planning to stage 10 events in October alone in different U.S. cities, attracting major participants and sponsorship by Proctor & Gamble brands.
Here is the internal memo about Walsh’s transition from Endeavor President Mark Shapiro:
We wanted to share with everyone that Jennifer Rudolph Walsh will be transitioning into an exciting new role for us. After serving in a senior leadership and client facing capacity with WME for nearly 20 years, Jennifer has decided to move on from her agenting responsibilities and focus on building her brand partnerships and live events platform. Fortunately for us, Jennifer will continue working with WME, advising our books and lectures divisions and the live events business that she incubated within the agency.
There is no better way to describe Jennifer than simply as a force of nature. After the William Morris Agency acquired her boutique book agency in 2001, Jennifer led WMA and later WME to be the #1 book agency in the publishing industry – a position we still firmly hold today. A fierce advocate for her colleagues as well as some of the culture’s most important voices, she has been responsible for bringing thought leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Brené Brown as well as prize winning fiction writers like Alice Munro and Sue Monk Kidd to audiences around the world.
An entrepreneur at heart, Jennifer’s creation of WME Live has been transformational for our book business. WME Live has launched tours for Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, and most recently Together Live — an initiative co-founded by Jennifer and our client Glennon Doyle. Together Live brings intersectional and diverse women storytellers to stages around the country. Heading into their fourth year, they’ve seen 50,000 people and counting. This year, partnered with P&G and Walmart, they are launching a podcast, shooting a pilot from the road for NBC, and have an anthology publishing with Random House.
Yet beyond her professional achievements, Jennifer’s most significant role has been in shaping the culture of WME. She has helped launch many of our cultural initiatives that continue to this day and have strengthened our bonds even further. Jennifer has also mentored countless former and current employees who have flourished under her guidance. Her leadership and counsel will have a lasting impact on all of us.
Jennifer has been discussing and planning this transition with us for awhile, and I’m truly thrilled that it has now come together.
Please join me in congratulating Jennifer on this next ambitious chapter.