- Cory Booker helped found a video aggregation start up site called Waywire
- Financial disclosure forms show that he appointed Jeff Zucker’s 15-year-old son Andrew on the company’s advisory board
- Andrew has since quit after his role was publicized
- Google’s Eric Schmidt and Booker pal Oprah Winfrey are both investors
- Booker is now running for the empty New Jersey Senate spot
PUBLISHED: 12:36 EST, 7 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:03 EST, 7 August 2013
The 15-year-old son of CNN president Jeff Zucker has resigned from his position on the advisory board of Cory Booker’s start-up after it was revealed that the teenager had a leadership role in the company and receiving stock options for his work.
Hours after the news broke that Zucker’s teenage son Andrew was listed as a member of the video aggregation start-up, a CNN spokesman said that he resigned from the company.
The spokesperson also made a concerted effort to distance Booker, the current Newark mayor who is running for the open New Jersey Senate seat, from the decision to bring the younger Zucker on board.
Her idea: Sarah Ross is said to be the one who approached Jeff Zucker’s son Andrew (seen with his father at left in 2009) to be a member of the advisory board of Cory Booker’s start-up Waywire
Public face: Cory Booker, the current mayor of Newark, New Jersey who is now running for Senate, is the founder of a video aggregation start up and he stands to make $1million to $5million out of the company
They said instead that it was Sarah Ross, a tech executive with close ties to Silicon Valley, who approached Andrew and asked him to provide some analysis for the Booker’s start-up Waywire because the teenager is apparently known for his insight into popular trends among teens.
Teenage tech whiz: Andrew Zucker, seen in 2009, resigned from his post on the company’s board hours after the news broke
CNN Money reported on Wednesday that Andrew’s name was suggested to Ms Ross by another Waywire board member after they heard that the teen had been helping his dad when it came to tech branding issues for the cable news giant.
Ms Ross then had a conversation with both Jeff and Andrew Zucker and they agreed to have the now-15-year-old sign on to Waywire’s advisory board and receive a ‘de minimus’ amount of stock options in return.
An unidentified source told CNN Money that Booker himself was ‘not involved at all’ with the decision, and Ms Ross herself admitted at an early stage that the politician would not be a part of the day-to-day operations of the start up.
The New York Times reports that even in the nascent phase, it was clear among the founders that Booker would be a more public role.
When the launched the company, Ms Ross reportedly said to Booker: ‘You know what? You should do it, found the company. Obviously you don’t have to be involved — you’ve got a full-time job. But found the company.’
The financial disclosure indicates that his ownership stake could earn him anywhere between $1million and $5million, but the company does not appear anywhere near ready to turn over such a profit.
Unlike many of the other boldface names connected to Waywire, like Oprah Winfrey and Google’s Eric Schmidt, it does not seem as if the elder Zucker actually has any financial stake in the company.
Very little has previously been revealed about the start up, which was officially created in May 2012.
Promoting the brand: If Booker wins, he will have to resign from the board of Waywire and stop promoting it from his well-followed Twitter feed
Famous funders: Google’s Eric Schmidt (left) was the first one to invest money in Waywire, and Booker’s close friend Oprah Winfrey (right) followed shortly after
Now The New York Times was able to shed some light on the company’s structure because Booker had to submit a financial report showing his ownership of the company due to the stipulations for Senate candidates.
Booker reportedly came up with the idea for the company, whose mission is to effectively become a different iteration of YouTube where the work of up-and-coming students is highlighted, while meeting with Ms Ross and Nathan Richardson.
Ms Ross is best known for her work behind the social media scenes, and is credited by The Times as being the one that helped Ashton Kutcher achieve his record-breaking number of followers.
‘I see high school kids who are doing incredible videos, but their voices are not breaking into the national conversation,’ Booker said of his inspiration for Waywire.
Connected: Sarah Ross, seen here talking with Booker and trailed by Mark Zuckerberg, is well known in Silicon Valley
Booker’s involvement in the project has not been a secret, as he used his name and public image as a way to gain more than a million dollars from early investors.
He said it was easy to raise the $1.75million worth of seed money for the venture ‘because of the power of the idea’. He said nothing of his rising power on the national political stage.
Schmidt was the first investor in the company, and Booker’s close friend Oprah followed suit.
For Booker’s part, he may not be able to be involved in the company much longer. If he wins the Senate race in November, he will be forced to withdraw from Waywire’s board.
The Times reports that they already had to go through a round of layoffs, but two staffers taht are still around are Andrew Zucker and an unidentified son of one of a Booker supporter who is now employed by Booker’s Senate campaign.
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