James W. Keyes is currently the chairman of Wild Oats Marketing LLC. Previously, Keyes served as Chief Executive Officer of 7-Eleven, Inc., and chairman and CEO of Blockbuster, Inc.
Keyes graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross. He also obtained an MBA from Columbia Business School in 1980.
Keyes served as chairman and chief executive officer of Blockbuster, Inc., from 2007 to 2011. While at Blockbuster, Keyes was once quoted, "Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition," he said "It's more Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)." At the time, Netflix primary business was DVDs by Mail and RedBox was renting DVDs via kiosk. Meanwhile, Apple had launched Apple TV for video streaming and Wal-Mart later acquired Vudu, a video streaming service. Keyes recognized that the future of media entertainment was streaming and acquired Movielink in 2007, a streaming video service created by the networks. "Our acquisition of Movielink", Keyes said, "with its associated digital content, is the next logical step in our planned transformation of Blockbuster. Now, in addition to the entertainment content we provide through our stores and by mail, we have taken an important step toward being able to make movie downloading conveniently available to computers, portable devices, and ultimately to the television at home."
While Blockbuster was well positioned to retain dominance in home video, the financial market collapse of 2008 made it exponentially difficult for the company to succeed. With over $1billion in debt, the company was highly vulnerable to the economic downturn.
“Moody’s downgraded Blockbuster Inc.’s probability of default rating to Caa1 from B3 and at the same time raised the company’s secured bank facilities to B1 from B3. Despite a notable improvement in operating income and a reduction in leverage, Blockbuster still remains highly leveraged and is faced with the burden of refinancing in a challenging credit environment.”
Keyes led a successful restructuring of the company and facilitated a sale to Dish Network. “We are delighted that a strategic bidder, Dish Network, recognized the value not only of Blockbuster’s assets but also of our people, our store base and multi-channel offering,” says Jim Keyes.
Keyes served as president and CEO of 7-Eleven from 2000 to 2005, retiring after 21 years with the company when it was sold to Seven & I Holdings Co. As president and CEO, Keyes implemented new retail systems technology that improved product assortment decisions. During Keyes' tenure there were nearly 40 quarters of improved same store sales and the stock price increased from $9 to $37.50.
Keyes previously served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer during his 21 years with 7-Eleven. Before 7-Eleven, he held various field and headquarters positions in a five-year tenure with Gulf Oil Corporation. He served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of 7-Eleven from May 1998 to April 2000. He also served as the chief financial officer of 7-Eleven Inc from May 1996 to April 1998 and in other various capacities since 1985. Keyes joined CITGO Petroleum in 1985, which was then a subsidiary of 7-Eleven, Inc. Before starting at 7-Eleven, Keyes held various field and headquarters positions in a five-year tenure with Gulf Oil Corporation (which is now called Chevron).
Keyes is founder of the Education is Freedom foundation, which provides college scholarships for hard-working young students.
Keyes has been a director of Murphy USA Inc. since August 2013.
Keyes serves on numerous civic boards, including the American Red Cross national board of governors, the Cooper Institute, and the Dallas Education Foundation.
In 2005, Keyes received the Horatio Alger Award, which is given to leaders in the community who exemplify "honesty, hard work, self reliance and perseverance". In 2008, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.