Glenn Britt, Former Time Warner Cable CEO, Dies at 65 After Battle With Cancer

Courtesy of Time Warner
Glenn Britt

UPDATED: Britt, who remained a board member after retiring last year, was first diagnosed with melanoma six years ago and announced that his cancer had returned in October.

Former Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt died Wednesday at his New York home following a battle with cancer. He was 65.

Rob Marcus, who succeeded Britt as Time Warner Cable's chief executive, said in a statement that Britt's wife, Barbara, was with him when he died.

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"Glenn left us with a legacy of innovation, integrity and inclusion," Marcus said. "We were guided for many years by his strong belief that a company must be willing to reinvent itself to be successful; his commitment to saying what you mean and doing what you say; and his conviction that a richly diverse workforce – diverse in ethnicity, culture, beliefs, perspectives, experiences and lifestyles – is necessary to best serve our diverse customers and communities. He will long be remembered for his thoughtful and steady leadership through rapidly changing times in the communications field. Glenn was a leader, colleague, mentor, role model and friend who will be greatly missed."

In Britt's final days as CEO, Time Warner Cable started discussing a sale to Comcast, which Marcus announced in February. The deal is pending. Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, issued his own statement Wednesday.

“Glenn Britt was an incredible leader, visionary, and for decades he was a wonderful friend and mentor," Roberts said. "He was a key part of our industry’s growth and success and was a true leader in every respect. His focus on helping others was heartwarming, and his competitive spirit was inspiring. He will be deeply missed."

Britt, who had been diagnosed with melanoma six years ago, announced in October that his cancer had returned. Three months earlier, he had revealed his plans to retire in December 2013.

“I feel good and am optimistic about my prognosis,” Britt told employees in a memo at the time. “I have no intention of letting this cancer slow me down and will continue to work until my retirement at the end of the year.”

Britt remained a board member at TWC in a non-executive role. At the company's annual shareholder meeting last week, Marcus noted that Britt wasn't in attendance but added: "We hope you will join us in keeping him in your thoughts."

Britt joined Time Inc. in 1972 in the controller's department, rising to vp and treasurer of Manhattan Cable Television Inc. two years later. He continued to work his way up the ranks with positions including vp network and studio operations at HBO, vp and chief financial officer of Time Inc. and executive vp at Time Warner Cable.

As president and CEO of Time Warner Cable Ventures, he oversaw the launch of Road Runner, the country's first high-speed Internet service.

Britt was named president of TWC in 1999. In 2001, he became CEO and added president back to his title five years later. He began serving as chairman of the board in 2009.

TWC credits Britt as "the driving force behind Time Warner Cable’s aggressive deployment of advanced video services, such as video-on-demand, high-definition television and digital video recorders."

Britt also guided the growth of TWC's residential high-speed Internet and digital phone services and Time Warner Cable Business Services. Additionally, Britt oversaw Time Warner Cable’s emergence as a publicly traded company and is credited with growing it from a $6 billion operating division into a $21 billion business. He also worked to create a "customer-service-oriented organization" at TWC.

In 2009, Britt was one of five executives appointed by President Barack Obama to a task force aimed at strengthening America’s economic competitiveness through leadership in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In conjunction with the White House initiative, Britt championed Time Warner Cable’s launch of Connect a Million Minds, the company’s $100 million five-year philanthropic initiative to inspire students to pursue STEM-related education and career opportunities.

He received many honors throughout his career, including induction into the Cable Hall of Fame and Cable Pioneers; Cable Positive’s Joel G. Berger Award; the NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership; the Media Institute’s American Horizon Award; the NAMIC Stanley B. Thomas Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Kaitz Foundation Diversity Champion Award. In 2010, he was named Humanitarian of the Year by the UJA-Federation of New York.

Britt received a degree in economics from Dartmouth College, where he graduated magna cum laude. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he received an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where he sponsored the Britt Technology Impact Series. The program series examines various aspects of the growing impact of technology on corporations and individuals, and the business strategy issues surrounding new technology.

Hilary Lewis contributed to this report.