Ross Levinsohn Directs Bold Maven Moves and Reaps Growth Rewards
The past three decades have included a whirlwind of digital change. The rise of social media, content sharing, and online brand presence has dramatically shifted how companies appeal to their consumers. During these shifts, leaders have had to adapt or get left behind in the shuffle. Ross Levinsohn has been working in the intersection of media, technology, and finance since the late 1980s.
In the early part of this century, Ross Levinsohn was named president of Fox Interactive Media. A decade after that, Levinsohn was managing Yahoo! as the executive VP and interim CEO. His work with Yahoo! was possibly the most pivotal part of his career, as he managed the company’s $5 billion of revenue and its$20 billion market cap — along with its more than 800 million global users.
He moved on to create a consulting business as co-founder of Whisper Advisors in 2014 and later, became CEO of Tribune Interactive in 2017, where he oversaw the digital operations supporting more 100 different publications, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, and the Orlando Sentinel.
Ross Levinsohn brings expertise to Maven
As an expert in three fast-changing fields, Ross Levinsohn has offered insight as a contributor to CNBC on topics of finance, media, technology, and business. He has also held roles at a number of other companies, including HBO, Alta Vista, and CBS Sportsline.
Ross Levinsohn moved into the position of CEO of Sports Illustrated in 2019. Maven acquired the rights to operate the national sports publication and digital products in 2020. After a year at the helm, Maven, the parent company asked him to assume the role of CEO, in addition to his duties at Sports Illustrated. His ability to understand the trajectory of the industries and adapt to the quickly changing times made him an ideal candidate.
Maven operates the infrastructure for more than 300 brands, including Maxim, Biography, History.com and Yoga Journal. The technology and media company needed leadership with in-depth experience and an innovative perspective on growth.
2019 was a formative year for maven. It acquired Jim Cramer’s digital financial business, TheStreet, for $16.5 million and the rights to operate Sports Illustrated, all within 30 days. Those moves help propel Maven to a new position in the internet landscape, and gave Levinsohn the platform to operate at scale, something he’s done over the course of the last two decades.
“We’ve seen the power of the Maven platform and are pleased to bring new capabilities to our readers and our great content to Maven’s existing audience,” said former TheStreet CEO and CFO Eric Lundberg. “Together, that kind of scale provides critical mass to propel our growth.”
Levinsohn’s longtime connections in the top tiers of publishing, media, finance, and technology also made him an ideal candidate for the position. He is no stranger to the top players there, which makes key relationships easier.
Regarding the acquisition by Maven, TheStreet founder and CNBC personality Jim Cramer noted, “I’ve known Ross for many years and couldn’t be more excited to expand our relationship and take this opportunity forward.”
Maven is navigating the changing media landscape
Maven publications span digital and print formats. The collective reaches around 150 million consumers every month. As a behemoth in the publication industry, Maven already has the infrastructure in place to house brands like Sports Illustrated. Its backend web development and monetization structure make it a solid fit for highly popular publications seeking to revitalize their digital presence.
Changes in media consumption have made it difficult for some traditional print brands to continue selling at the rate needed for stabilization or growth. In many cases, brands have struggled to find a balance between their free online content and paid subscriptions. The rise of free digital content has made it hard for some brands to compete.
Levinsohn and Maven are working to change that.
“This is a unique opportunity to lead a technology and media company during a dynamic time of change in both spaces,” said Levinsohn. “I’m excited to partner with a powerful array of incredible brands [and] partners and a world-class team of executives and employees.”
After acquiring TheStreet, Maven helped grow its audience and subscriptions significantly. TheStreet has dramatically grown its audience, subscription revenue and advertising since being acquired..
Maven has played a key role in helping a number of its businesses grow, despite the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. There have been increased challenges with a downturned economy but also increased opportunities, with captive audiences searching for more content to consume. Levinsohn is certainly no stranger to change. He is committed to the betterment of Maven brands with creative solutions and innovative strategies.
“We are rolling up our sleeves during this transformative time, with some of the best talent in our industry,” said Levinsohn.
Recent rounds of investment further supported Maven’s drive to improve offerings for its brands. Maven brought in an additional $24 million from new and existing investors in November. The money is dedicated to expanding partnerships, paying off debts, and supporting general operating costs.
“The investments in Maven are another validation of our business model, strategy, and leadership team,” said Levinsohn. “We continue to expand our business, drive efficiencies, and margin and look for new opportunities in the market.”
Ross Levinsohn and Maven, moving forward together
Levinsohn is working to help Maven grow its legacy to an even larger scale. Thanks to his experience in riding out change, Levinsohn has been a successful leadership choice so far for Maven. An unexpected year with unprecedented circumstances has not stopped the company from pursuing solid growth. Stakeholders and shareholders have expressed their confidence in the company and the direction that it has taken.
With the many changes brought on by the past year, companies will need to be prepared for a different world with very different challenges. From consumer expectations to worker perspectives — nothing will be quite the same after the pandemic ends. Company leaders must continue to see the writing on the wall and make moves that are insightful and in step with the changes.
Levinsohn looks forward to continuing to provide forward-thinking leadership at Maven. He hasn’t taken a backseat in light of the pandemic, and it’s clear that he isn’t going to wind down anytime soon. Other leaders are taking similar paths and looking for ways to add value and grow their brands, despite a volatile market.