Irwin Gotlieb, a powerful force in the media agency industry whom Fortune once called "the $59 billion man," is leaving his role as global chairman of GroupM, the company said Friday morning. He will become a senior advisor to GroupM parent WPP.
In a statement, Kelly Clark, GroupM's global CEO since 2016, called Gotlieb a "one-of-a-kind visionary" and said his mark on on the media-agency conglomerate and the entire media business is "indelible." Clark will continue to lead the company in his current role. WPP does not plan to fill the chairman post he is vacating.
Gotlieb established the first spin-out of a standalone media shop in 1993 with the separation of what would become MediaVest from DMB&B before joining WPP in 1999 as Mindshare's first global CEO. He became GroupM's first global CEO when it was founded in 2003.