Technological advancements have uprooted much of the traditional media industry in recent decades, and the coming years promise even more challenges. During these uncertain times, both Sports Illustrated and Maven have brought on established media executive Ross Levinsohn as CEO to prepare for the future. In his brief tenure, he’s grown aspects of both companies and created a more stable foundation for the obstacles ahead in digital and traditional publishing.
Levinsohn Has Decades of Media Industry Experience
Sports Illustrated and Maven chose Ross Levinsohn largely for his media industry experience and expertise. Before joining the companies as Chief Executive Officer, Levinsohn had served as CEO of several organizations, as well as other executive roles at companies such as Fox Sports, Yahoo and The Los Angeles Times..
Levinsohn graduated with a communications degree from American University in 1986, and only a few years later held mid- and upper-level positions at major media companies. He worked for six years as the Director of Production and Marketing Enterprises at HBO, followed by a three-year tenure as the Vice President of Programming for CBS Sportsline. Subsequent positions included General Manager for Alta Vista and President for Fox Interactive Media.
Levinsohn also served as Managing Director of Fuse Capital, a digital media and communications investment firm, from 2008 until October 2010, which he left for his most prominent role yet. In October 2010, Levinsohn joined Yahoo as the Head of Global Media and shortly thereafter was named the company’s Interim CEO.
Levinsohn Has Served in CEO and Consultant Roles for Years
Being named the Interim CEO of Yahoo launched Levinsohn into the highest media industry echelons where he showed his merit as a top executive and leader.
After a successful tenure with Yahoo, Levinsohn was hired by Guggenheim Digital Media as CEO. Guggenheim l holds well-known publications, such as The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard Magazine and Adweek.
Several years after leaving Guggenheim Digital Media, Tribune Interactive brought on Levinsohn as CEO. Tribune Interactive, of course, is the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun and other well-established print publications. While at Tribune, Levinsohn co-founded his own media consultancy agency and had a brief stint with The Boston Consulting Group. He did not serve as Tribunes’s CEO when working as a consultant.
In addition to these positions, Levinsohn has served on multiple boards in his career.. He was on the Board of Directors for Zefr, the Tribune Company, Thryv (a business software company), as well as the Board of Trustees for American University.
Levinsohn Makes Sports Illustrated Leaner
Sports Illustrated hired Levinsohn in October 2019, after Authentic Brands purchased the iconic publication in May 2019. for $110 million, envisioning a shift toward licensing to increase profits.
Although not involved in the decision to purchase Sports Illustrated, or the initial licensing strategy concept , Levinsohn was charged with executing the strategy. He excelled at this task, landing 15 new licensing deals within his first year, with another three to five anticipated the following quarter.
Aside from the quantity of licensing deals Levinsohn landed,, the type of deals proved vitally important to Sports Illustrated, as Levinsohn’s team specifically pursued licensing partners more efficient at certain processes than SI. These deals allowed arguably the most well-known sports publication in history to focus on its core competencies and become more efficient.
Ultimately, these strategic deals increased revenue and improved internal operations. making Sports Illustrated highly profitable by October 2020 and doubling EBITDA from 18 months prior.
In leading Sports Illustrated to higher profits and improved efficiency, Levinsohn effectively positioned the publication to better handle future challenges in the evolving media industry by relying on its licensing partnerships and adaptability to changing market conditions.
Levinsohn Improves Maven’s Cash Flow
Maven hired Ross Levinsohn as CEO in August 2020, without requiring that he leave Sports Illustrated. At Maven, Levinsohn’s most notable achievement to date has been a successful increase in capital.
Under Levinsohn’s leadership, Maven completed a $24 million fundraising campaign that sourced investments from the new and existing investors such as Hunt Technology Ventures LP, TCS Capital Management, Ventures LP, 180 Degree Capital, B. Riley Financial and others.
The $24 million has been directed to debt reduction, partnership growth and corporate expenses, all of which ultimately focus on improving cash flow and ensuring a strong balance sheet. Under Levinsohn’s leadership, these improvements will enable Maven to better withstand the current media industry uncertainty.
Prepared for What May Come in Media
Ross Levinsohn has seen a lot as a media career, and he’s leveraged his experience to prepare both Sports Illustrated and Maven to not only survive, but thrive for the long term in the turbulent media industry as it continues to transition from print to digital publication.