Maven Ousts CEO James Heckman, Hires Ex-Sports Illustrated Head Ross Levinsohn

The Sports Illustrated publisher will be helmed by the outlet’s former CEO Ross Levinsohn

Maven has ousted CEO James Heckman and is installing former Sports Illustrated CEO Ross Levinsohn, reported TheStreet Wednesday.

Maven, which was founded by Heckman, publishes both Sports Illustrated and TheStreet, as well as History.com, Maxim and Biography.

Heckman, according to the announcement, “will transition from his CEO role and will advise Levinsohn on key strategic and business development initiatives.” While Levinsohn most recently served as CEO of Sports Illustrated, he has a long media career: He is the former interim CEO of Yahoo and has held leadership positions at Fox Interactive Media, HBO, Tribune, Guggenheim Digital Media and CBS Sportsline.

“This is a unique opportunity to lead a technology and media company during a dynamic time of change in both spaces,” said Levinsohn in a statement. “I’m excited to partner with a powerful array of incredible brands, partners and a world-class team of executives and employees.”

Levinsohn was investigated in January 2018, while serving as CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, after NPR reported that he had admitted under oath to ranking the looks of female colleagues and discussing whether a colleague worked as a stripper, among other incidents.

The leadership reshuffling at Maven comes after the CEO of Authentic Brands Group, the owner of the Sports Illustrated brand, disagreed with recent staffing decisions Maven in May and asked to “reverse” some of its actions.

In an interview with TheWrap, ABG CEO Jamie Salter addressed SI.com’s decision to cut 9% of its staff, saying that while Maven’s moves were in line with what other corporations had done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company did not necessarily agree with all of TheMaven’s actions.

In a statement at the time, Levinsohn  — then serving as CEO of SI media operations — sidestepped Salter’s criticism and praised Maven’s handling of the brand: “In only a few months, Maven turned a struggling print-news-focused business, reaching a fraction of its historic audience, into a thriving digital sports network, with expansive video offerings reaching 35 million fans. This decisive strategy revived the business, resulting in improved income, users, engagement and video views while the magazine’s improved format and long-form feature strategy also helped energize the brand,” he said. “But our hearts go out to those affected by the changes required by the COVID crisis.”

ABG acquired Sports Illustrated from Meredith Corporation last year and shortly thereafter licensed the publishing of the magazine’s website to Maven Media Brands.