About Us

History

Our Founder

Born in 1870 in Dayton, Ohio, our founder James Middleton Cox came of age in a time of great change — the telephone, phonograph and light bulb were invented in his first 10 years of life. From humble roots, Cox and his six older siblings worked in the fields of their family’s farm from sunrise to sunset in the summer. Throughout his life Cox loved the outdoors, saying that “life and hard work in the open had given me health, agility and endurance.”

In 1898, at the age of 28, Cox borrowed $26,000 from friends and family and purchased the Dayton Evening News (now the Dayton Daily News). He added a women’s society editor and increased the Associated Press service to include national, international and sports news. It was Cox’s belief that this was “the people’s paper.”

1870
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Our Founder

Public Service

In his late 30s, while working in publishing, Cox was persuaded to run for Congress. He won the 1908 election and represented Ohio from 1909 to 1913. He was then elected governor of Ohio, serving from 1913 to 1915 and again from 1917 to 1921. In 1920, Cox was the Democratic presidential nominee and chose Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate. Though they lost the 1920 election, both made their marks as Roosevelt later became president and Governor Cox focused his energy on growing his newspapers.

Cox often said that he had printers’ ink in his blood, and 1923 marked the beginning of his company’s vigorous growth. His passion for serving his community with quality news grew when he acquired several newspapers, four radio stations and two television stations. This growth was the start of what we know today as Cox Enterprises.

1908
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Public Service

WSB Debut

When Governor Cox purchased The Atlanta Journal in 1939, he also gained “The South's First Radio Station,” WSB, which had gone on air in 1922. Call letters for radio stations were often translated into bits of verbiage, and when listeners were asked to send in suggestions, the winner was “Welcome South Brother.” By the time Cox took over, WSB was a 50,000-watt powerhouse that could be heard throughout the United States. Pictured: WSB announcer's booth in the 1930s.

1922
WSB Debut
WSB Debut

WHIO Radio

WHIO, the first Cox radio station and first station in Ohio’s Miami Valley, went on air in Dayton on February 9, 1935. The Governor’s son, Jim Cox Jr., was fascinated with radio, a new technology of the time, and is credited with leading his father into the medium. Governor Cox gave an eloquent on-air dedication, saying, “May I express this christening sentiment — that the voice of this Miami Valley empire will always be an instrument of dignity, culture and practical service.”

1935
WHIO Radio
WHIO Radio

Atlanta Journal

Cox purchased The Atlanta Journal in 1939, writing: “I wouldn't know of another property in America I would want outside of this one. Georgia is a great empire with an inescapable progress of agricultural development. That appeals strongly to me.” He later called purchasing The Journal “the rounding out of a dream." Pictured, The front page of The Journal from December 18, 1939, with a telegraph from Franklin D. Roosevelt welcoming Cox to Atlanta.

1939
Atlanta Journal
Atlanta Journal

WSB-TV On Air

At 8 p.m. on September 29, 1948, television made its debut in Atlanta via Cox’s WSB-TV, which called itself the “Eyes of the South.” Atlanta-area residents began buying television sets four months before WSB-TV started broadcasting, and approximately 2,500 receivers were in homes when the station went on air.

1948
WSB-TV On Air
WSB-TV On Air

WHIO-TV Debut

The first television station in Ohio's Miami Valley, WHIO-TV in Dayton, went on air on February 23, 1949. At the opening ceremony, Jim Cox Jr., who had led his father into broadcasting, talked about TV's “tremendous possibilities.” When coaxial cable arrived, allowing for high-frequency transmission of television signals, WHIO-TV was “online” to the nation a few months later.

1949
WHIO-TV Debut
WHIO-TV Debut

Atlanta Expansion

Governor Cox purchased The Atlanta Constitution in 1950, just a few days before his 80th birthday. He assured Ralph McGill, editor, and Jack Tarver, associate editor: “I bought your paper because I wanted you. I want The Constitution to grow and I want you fellows to build it.” McGill said Governor Cox didn't believe in imposing overall news and editorial policies on his newspapers, thinking it would be “contrary to the public good and bad business.” Pictured: Front page of The Atlanta Constitution after Cox purchased it.

1950
Atlanta Expansion
Atlanta Expansion

Three Generations

Three generations gathered for the dedication of the new Dayton Daily News building in Ohio: Jim Cox Jr., (photo, left) Governor James M. Cox (center) and his grandson, Jim Kennedy (right).

1957
Three Generations
Three Generations

A Legacy

James Middleton Cox died Tuesday, July 15, 1957, at his Trailsend home near Dayton, Ohio. He was 87 years old. Governor Cox left behind his wife and three children, Jim Cox Jr., Anne Cox Chambers and Barbara Cox.

1957
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A Legacy

The Boss

After Governor Cox passed away, his son Jim Cox Jr. moved easily into the position of leadership within the family-owned Cox organization. He already had direct responsibility for the company’s radio and television stations, and played a growing role in watching over the seven Cox newspapers. It wasn’t long before many company executives, first in conversations with each other and later with him, referred to Jim Cox Jr. simply as “the boss.”

1957
The Boss
The Boss

Cable Growth

Jim Cox Jr. purchased three cable systems in central Pennsylvania — which combined had 11,800 subscribers. Cox was one of the earliest broadcasters to embrace community antenna TV (later called cable television), which provided rural communities with better reception and a wider selection of channels. Cox Cable experienced explosive growth in the 1970s, and in the 1980s cable became more popular as Home Box Office (HBO) started offering films and made-for-cable entertainment, and sporting events moved to cable programming.

1962
Cable Growth
Cable Growth

Going Public

In 1964 Cox's broadcasting and cable businesses became Cox Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and opened for trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Cox's newspapers remained a private company and operated separately from CBC. Pictured left to right: Jim Cox Jr. (chairman), Leonard Reinsch (president) and Keith Funston (NYSE president).

1964
Going Public
Going Public

Cable Consolidates

Cox's cable systems were consolidated into a new company, Cox Cable Communications, Inc. (CCC). Cox Broadcasting Corporation held the majority of the stock. By 1971 CCC had become the second-largest company in the cable TV industry.

1968
Cable Consolidates
Cable Consolidates

Manheim Auctions

Cox purchased Manheim Auto Auction, a small operation in Manheim, Pa., in 1968. Cox became aware of the fledgling auto auction industry through its ownership of the “Black Book” used car price guides. Though a departure from the company’s media properties, the move was in line with Cox’s criteria for acquisitions: an emphasis on customer service (rather than inventory), high operating margins and an industry with growth potential.

1968
Manheim Auctions
Manheim Auctions

Name Change

In 1982, to reflect the growth of the cable industry and to underscore the importance of transforming broadcasting, Cox Broadcasting Corporation changed its name to Cox Communications, Inc. With this change, the board elected William A. Schwartz, who noted, “Our position in expanding businesses … resulted in record revenues and earnings in 1982.” The new name came with a new home, as Cox Communications moved its new headquarters to an up-and-coming commercial center on the edge of Atlanta.

1982
Name Change
Name Change

A Merger

In 1985, Cox Enterprises, Inc. purchased Cox Communications for $75 per share. Cox Enterprises already owned or controlled roughly 40 percent of the communications company’s 28.2 million outstanding shares. The combined corporation, called Cox Enterprises, became the nation’s 13th largest media company. Before the merger, Cox Communications and Cox Enterprises ranked 19th and 21st, respectively. This event marked the end of 21 years of public ownership for Cox Communications, but gave shareholders a growth in market value from $43 million to more than $2.1 billion.

1985
A Merger
A Merger

New Chairman

In 1988 then–Executive Vice President Jim Kennedy, grandson of Governor Cox, was promoted to CEO and chairman of CEI. Kennedy brought Cox into a new chapter of its history, and is noted for his efforts to increase diversity, his ability to handle the shifting technological landscape of the 1990s and further enhancing the company’s reputation. During his tenure, Cox Enterprises has increased its annual revenues from $1.8 billion to more than $20 billion.

1988
New Chairman
New Chairman

Classifieds Online

AutoTrader.com launched in 1997 as a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The effort was at the forefront of e-commerce, as the company offered services that helped consumers research, buy and sell cars online. Those looking to sell a car to a dealer could ask for offers from their local area, and dealers were able to use the wide net of data to further their businesses. In only three years, it became the number one online automotive classified website.

1997
Classifieds Online
Classifieds Online

CERF Founded

On August 28, 2005, Hurricane Katrina was barreling toward the Gulf of Mexico. The Cox leadership team knew employees would be affected but had no idea to what degree. On September 1, just 72 hours after the storm made landfall, Cox came together to create the Cox Employee Disaster Relief Fund. We secured our 501(c)(3) status and rallied employees to help their own. Within months the fund raised more than $2.7 million in donations from 4,700 employees, a company match, and support from vendors and industry collegues.

In 2013, the fund was renamed the Cox Employee Relief Fund (CERF) to reflect the expansion of the Fund to include costs for injury or illness and loss of a family member. In 2015, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the fund, and CERF continues to grow.

2005
CERF Founded
CERF Founded

Global Growth

In 2005, Manheim announced the opening of offices in China, with one in Shanghai and one in Beijing. Additionally, they opened offices in England, Scotland, Belgium, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. The global expansion, set in motion 30 years prior with openings in Canada, continued with Manheim offices on nearly every continent.

2005
Global Growth
Global Growth

Cox Conserves

In 2007, Chairman Jim Kennedy formalized the company’s sustainability efforts through Cox Conserves. The program engages each of our major subsidiaries, Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media group, by asking them to conserve the natural resources that are most essential to their business, and encourages our approximately 55,000 employees and their families to adopt eco-friendly practices in their lives and to make a difference through community service. Cox Conserves’ primary focus areas are energy conservation, water conservation, waste diversion and recycling, and community engagement.

Cox Conserves
Cox Conserves

Multichannel Opportunity

As Cox Media Group (CMG) restructured to accommodate its television, radio and newspaper businesses under one umbrella, CMG developed cross-platform opportunities for advertisers across all three mediums. Additionally, it built advertising opportunities within its internet platforms as a way to expand revenue sources. CMG was able to offer benefits to both internal constituents and external customers by leveraging its businesses’ shared research, sales and digital resources.

2009
Multichannel Opportunity
Multichannel Opportunity

Cox Automotive

In 2014, Cox Enterprises brought all of its automotive-related businesses — including Manheim, AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book, vAuto and NextGear Capital — together under the newly created Cox Automotive subsidiary. Together, the business units within Cox Automotive are transforming the way the world buys, sells and owns cars. Cox Automotive is the world’s leader in vehicle remarketing services and digital marketing and software solutions for automotive dealers and consumers.

2014
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Cox Automotive

Looking Ahead

Today, Cox Enterprises employs approximately 55,000 employees in 300 separate businesses. Currently, three generations of Cox family members serve on the company's board of directors; and the great-grandson of Governor Cox, Alex Taylor, assumed the role of CEO on January 1, 2018. The various community, employee and environmental programs developed over more than a century would surely make Governor Cox proud of the legacy he left behind.

2017
Looking Ahead
Looking Ahead

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