The Second City Names Sesame Workshop’s Ed Wells as CEO

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Legendary improv and sketch comedy haven The Second City has named Ed Wells as chief executive officer.

The former global head of media and education for Sesame Workshop joins the company to drive strategic growth in areas including content creation, distribution and consumer products. It’s a no-brainer for the incubator to comedy all-stars like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows, Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, Eugene Levy and Keegan-Michael Key.

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At Sesame, where Wells also served as executive vice president, he oversaw an aggressive international expansion for all things Elmo and Big Bird.

“I am honored to be named CEO of this legendary and beloved institution. As the world leader in improv-based entertainment and education, The Second City represents both the very best of and the future of improv,” said Wells. “I look forward to joining and leading this incredibly talented team as we develop a long-term growth plan including geographical expansion and new media opportunities aimed at bringing The Second City magic to audiences everywhere.”

Prior to Sesame, Wells was executive vice president and head of international for WWE, Inc., where he was responsible for both the brand and businesses, including the launch of its direct-to-consumer subscription service. Before that, he worked across the Viacom International Media Networks brands based in New York, Singapore and Japan, where he served as vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon.

“Ed Wells brings an enviable wealth of knowledge and deal-making experience in the global media and entertainment industry,” said Strauss Zelnick, founder and managing partner of ZMC, which acquired Second City in 2021. “Ed’s unique combination of media industry experience on the global stage and understanding of the creative experience will help take The Second City to the next level.”

Wells took office on Sept. 6. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan, American University and Ritsumeikan University, and serves as an advisor the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to supporting homeless LGBTQ youth.

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