Since Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Sports Illustrated Media, was elevated to CEO of Maven in August 2020, she has focused extensively on revitalizing the brand. The technology platform and publishing company named Levinsohn to the top job during a pandemic that has added to ongoing industry struggles, including increased competition with free online content and avoiding advertising interruptions.
Growing During Tough Times
Ross Levinsohn, however, has taken the opportunity to grow Maven and Sports Illustrated rather than allow them to be consumed by problems. While COVID-19 has created several challenges, it has also created greater demand for news and information. This presents a growth opportunity for media brands willing to adapt and transform to manage the new realities.
“We are rolling up our sleeves during this transformative time, with some of the best talents in our industry,” Levinsohn said when appointed Maven CEO.
Under Levinsohn’s 18-month leadership, SI Media, one of Maven’s brands, has seen a significant increase in readership and earnings. Maven has also grown its digital subscribership 30 percent in the last 12 months and its advertising revenue by a similar margin, while expanding its partnership with Authentic Brands Corp., owner of the SI brand. In June 2021, Maven announced that it has raised an additional $20 million in equity funding and will acquire Spun, a sports news website. Ross Levinsohn says Spun has a talented team of 11 employees and will provide an excellent complement to SI.
Part of Levinsohn’s growth strategy is to acquire or develop new brands aimed at specific audiences. Toward that end, in May 2021, Maven announced a new brand, Crypto Investor, which includes a weekly newsletter subscription. Crypto Investor is developed in collaboration with BTC Inc., which publishes Bitcoin Magazine.
Why Ross Levinsohn?
In choosing Levinsohn as CEO, Maven elevated someone with ample experience to understand the rapidly shifting media industry landscape. The dramatic change appeals to Levinsohn, who declared the promotion “a unique opportunity to lead a technology and media company during a dynamic time of change in both places.”
In his new role, Levinsohn oversees 300 media brands, including History.com, Biography, Maxim, and The Street. James Heckman, the previous Maven CEO, will transition from that role and advise Levinsohn on strategic initiatives.
“We are excited about this new chapter in the evolution of the company, our partnerships, and the leadership Ross will bring to the company,” said John Fichthorn, Maven’s Executive Chairman.
In conjunction with announcing Levinsohn’s elevation, Maven announced additional funding for several brands, including SI and The Street. Maven received $24 million from investors Hunt Technology Ventures LP, TCS Capital Management, Invenire Capital Partners, 180 Degree Capital, and B. Riley Financial.
Ross Levinsohn’s Experience
Ross Levinsohn has more than 30 years of varied media and technology experience, having previously served in leadership roles at the following media and technology companies:
- Interim CEO and head of global media at Yahoo!, one of the world’s largest Internet media companies
- President of Fox Interactive Media, the digital arm of News Corp.
- CEO of Tribune Interactive, where he oversaw 100 publications, including the New York Daily, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, and Orlando Sentinel
- Publisher of the Los Angeles Times
He’s also served in various executive positions at Alta Vista, HBO, and CBS SportsLine.
As a major investor in the digital space, Levinsohn has made more than 30 early-stage and growth investments. He was formerly CEO of Guggenheim Digital media. He also served as an adviser at Boston Consulting Group and co-founder and partner of the Whisper Group, a boutique strategic advisory firm that worked with companies in media, e-commerce, technology, and consumer products. He held the managing director position at Fuse Capital, a venture capital fund with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Silicon Valley, from January 2008 to October 2010. In 2016 and 2017, he was a regular contributor to CNBC on finance and investment.
Additionally, Levinsohn shared his knowledge as a member of the board of directors of several other companies and on boards of trustees of universities. These board positions included:
- Thyrv, formerly DexYP, a print and digital marketing company created by the 2013 merger of SuperMedia and Dex One. Levinsohn served on that board of directors from August 2016 through December 2019.
- Tribune Company. Levinsohn served on Tribune’s board of directors from January 2013 until September 2019.
- Zefr, an L.A.-based video technology company. Levinsohn served as a director on its board from November 2012 until August 2017.
- American University, a private university in Washington D.C. Levinsohn served on its board of trustees from January 2015 until January 2018. Levinsohn is also an alumna of American University, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in communications in 1985.