Maven Fires Veteran Sports Illustrated Writer, Says He Produced ‘Little Meaningful Revenue’

In a tweet responding to the memo, Grant Wahl countered the claims against him

Shortly after tweeting that Sports Illustrated’s parent company, Maven Media Brands, had fired him Friday, 24-year veteran of the magazine Grant Wahl responded to a leaked memo about said firing.

“1) I told Maven I was fine taking a 30% pay cut during the pandemic. But it was shameful to try to push through a permanent 30% cut beyond the pandemic. 2) My base salary was far below that, but I got a bonus because my bosses said my work was very good. 3) I write frequently,” he tweeted.

His response was specifically for a memo from Maven CEO and founder James Heckman, who wrote of Wahl, “Every senior staff member volunteered to put their personal budgeted future at risk, to save jobs and ensure stable salaries for those making less. Everyone, that is, but one person. This person made more than $350,000 last year to infrequently write stories that generated little meaningful viewership or revenue. Yet he trumpeted that he thought it shameful to be asked to participate in helping his fellow workers. To complain about a personal pay reduction when 31 others had just lost their jobs is incomprehensible in light of the sacrifices others made to help limit layoffs and maintain livable salaries for our staff. Such a me-first attitude is not part of the tradition and culture Maven is committed to maintaining.”

Last week, 9% of the Maven workforce was laid off. When that happened, Wahl posted his feelings on social media, criticizing the company and accusing Heckman of taking advantage of a pandemic and attempting to reduce his salary permanently. Friday, he tweeted simply, “Maven just fired me from Sports Illustrated. No severance. Nothing.”

Heckman said in a statement last Monday the company expected to see a $30 million drop in revenue this year and the goal of the layoffs was to “get ahead of the economic tumult triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic and ensure the ongoing strength of the company.”

Seattle-based Maven employed 332 people prior to the cuts, Heckman said.

The cuts came after Maven directed Sports Illustrated to lay off 40 employees last October, after buying the publication for $45 million. The layoffs were ordered by Heckman and Ross Levinson, former publisher of the Los Angeles Times and current Sports Illustrated head. At the time, the two said the laid-off reporters would be replaced by up to 200 contract and freelance workers.