Cox Enterprises was founded in Dayton, Ohio, in 1898 by former schoolteacher and news reporter James M. Cox, whose ambition was to own a newspaper. At the age of 28, he borrowed $26,000 from friends and family and purchased the Dayton Evening News (now the Dayton Daily News).
James Cox's success with the newspaper led him into public service. He subsequently became Ohio's first three-term governor and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president of the United States. After losing the election to Warren Harding, Gov. Cox focused his attention on growing his media business.
In 1935, Gov. Cox started Dayton's first radio station, WHIO, just as radio was gaining widespread popularity. In 1939, Cox acquired The Atlanta Journal newspaper and WSB, the South's oldest and most powerful radio station. Cox's innovation continued in 1948 when WSB-TV in Atlanta became the South's first television station; WHIO-TV in Dayton began broadcasting later that year.
Following Gov. Cox's death in 1957, his son, James Cox, Jr., assumed leadership of the company and continued its expansion until his death in 1974. During his tenure, Cox Enterprises became one of the first major players in the cable television industry. Cox Communications began with the acquisition of three small cable systems in rural Pennsylvania in 1962. Today, Cox Communications is among the largest broadband communications companies in the country and serves more than 6 million customers in 18 states.
Cox demonstrated its foresight again in 1969 by acquiring Manheim Auto Auction in Manheim, Penn. Manheim has grown to be the world's leading provider of used-vehicle and remarketing services, and a marketplace for almost seven million used vehicles that change hands every year.
Cox's next auto-related innovation was launched in 1998. Autotrader is the most visited third-party car shopping site, with the most engaged audience of in-market shoppers. Cox brought together more than 20 automotive brands, including Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Manheim, to create Cox Automotive in 2014. The company partners with more than 40,000 dealers and major automobile manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Cox's traditional media operations - television, newspapers and radio - continue to be major players in their industries. Cox Media Group consists of six daily newspapers; 60 radio stations; and 14 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel, as well as Cox Reps, a major advertising sales rep firm. The subsidiary's operations also include Savings.com and Valpak.
Today, Cox Enterprises employs approximately 55,000 employees in 300 separate businesses. Its employees are active in every community where the company operates.
James C. Kennedy, Gov. Cox's grandson, is chairman of Cox Enterprises. During his tenure, Cox Enterprises has increased in annual revenue from $2.1 billion to $18 billion. There are currently three generations of Cox family members on the company's board of directors. Under Kennedy's direction, Cox launched a national sustainability program, Cox Conserves, across the company. It's part of a legacy that began more than a century ago.