SBD/September 18, 2013/People and Pop Culture

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  • Electronic Arts Taps EA Sports Exec VP Andrew Wilson As CEO

    Wilson helped turn the "FIFA" franchise into the top-selling sports video game

    Electronic Arts late yesterday named EA Sports Exec VP ANDREW WILSON CEO, representing a surprise choice to lead overall operations of the video gaming giant. Wilson beat out another former EA Sports head in EA COO PETER MOORE, as well as EA Labels President FRANK GIBEAU, for the top spot, in addition to several external candidates. Wilson, 39, has been with EA since '00, and in particular had a series of major successes with the resurrection of the company's "FIFA" franchise into the world's top-selling sports video game. "I am convinced Andrew was an inspired choice by our board and one I expect the team at EA will enthusiastically support," said EA Chair LARRY PROBST, who had been serving as interim CEO following the March resignation of JOHN RICCITIELLO. Probst added, "Andrew is the first studio executive to serve as our CEO, a testament to his blend of creative skills and business acumen." Wilson inherits the company reins as the entire gaming industry continues a turbulent transition toward more digital platforms, and with the introduction of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles coming later this fall. "I envision EA as the world's greatest games company," Wilson said in a blog post. "This is not about what we are aiming for or what we will become. Rather, it is about an unfaltering commitment to what we will be every day. This is an attitude that must drive our culture as one team." A successor to lead EA Sports has not yet been named. Wilson, according to EA's filing with the SEC, will receive an $800,000 annual base salary, a target bonus percentage of 150% of his base salary, and stock options (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

    SURPRISE MOVE? Needham & Co. financial analyst SEAN MCGOWAN said of the change, "It's a little unusual that they would go with somebody internal that's not one of the more visible guys that they had been putting in front of investors. I'm not taking anything away from this guy's credibility, but he wasn't held out there as an heir apparent" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/18). Wilson said, "Inside the company, I’m a known quantity. I've had the great fortune of having worked at this company for over 13 years. I've worked internationally, I've worked in a number of areas of the company, but I grew up inside our studio system. ... When I think about our vision for the future, we have a very strong strategy around the ongoing development of the most amazing teams in the world." He added, "We’re not just a console company. We have made tremendous inroads into mobile and we are investing heavily there. We've done exceptionally well with FIFA online as a free-to-play PC product in Asia, and have announced we’re taking that to the West" (WSJ.com, 9/17).

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  • Former Buccaneers CMO Jason Dial Joining Circuit Of The Americas As President

    Circuit of the Americas yesterday named former Buccaneers CMO JASON DIAL to the newly created position of President. Dial begins Oct. 1 and will report directly to COTA CEO STEVE SEXTON (COTA). In Tampa, Alexis Muellner notes Dial "resigned from the Buccaneers last week." Bucs COO BRIAN FORD said, "Jason was a part of helping us maximize the excitement that the entire community feels this season towards our team." Muellner notes Dial joined the Bucs in August '11 after "nearly two years with his own sports marketing and branding firm." He also "spent 18 years as the head of global sports marketing at Procter & Gamble" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/18).

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  • Minding My Business With MiLB President & CEO Pat O'Conner

    O'Conner admits he can get impatient when dealing with modern technology

    Since his days as a Dodgertown intern in '81, MiLB President & CEO PAT O'CONNER's life has been connected to the minor leagues. This year O'Conner celebrates his 20th year with MiLB, and he thinks he'll do so by spending a few less days on the road. "In 2011 it was 215 days, and I cut back in 2012 to 195," he said. "I've made a concerted effort this year to try to go to 150 or less, and I think we're on pace to maybe do that." O'Conner recently spoke with THE DAILY about baseball's battles with the struggling economy, why he doesn't like mixing business with pleasure, and how worldly wisdom can be found atop a tractor.

    Surviving a tough economy...
    We're a collection of small businesses, scattered throughout the country. When other small businesses are finding it difficult to participate and succeed, let alone grow in this current economic environment, we're holding our own. You can buy Minor League Baseball in 160 cities across the United States, concentrated in B, C and D counties but not without reaching in the A counties. Marketers who don’t want to activate in 160 cities, that’s fine, we’ll give you everything, you’ll get a little something in everything, and then you tell us where you want to focus. 

    Negotiations go awry when...
    The perception or reality that your counterpart isn't being honest. I tell my staff over and over, don’t ever lie to somebody. You don’t have to tell them everything you know, but don’t lie to them. I think the perception or reality that you’re dealing off the bottom of the deck, that you don’t want a real solution.

    Best advice I've ever received...
    You can make friends at work, but don’t work with friends. You have to establish the relationships, whatever they are. Are they going to be personal, or are they going to be professional? There are too many people that try to work together after a friendship's been established, and the lines get blurred.

    To tweet or not to tweet...
    I don’t Facebook and I don’t Twitter. We had a debate some months ago over whether the president should be, "tweeting" I guess is the proper word. I think it would be really neat, but I would take it very seriously as far as a commitment, and if the fans ask questions I’d be inclined to want to get them answers. It’s a slippery slope. I don’t want somebody who takes the time and cares and is interested to send me a tweet that I blow off.

    Grappling with technology...
    I was the last person in the company to direct deposit his paycheck, and I think I was probably one of the last people to get a phone that did anything more than flip. I have a Droid. I've got Angry Birds for those long flights. I've got Pandora, but I can’t figure out how to add any songs to it. I try, but one, I’m not savvy, and two, I’m impatient. I know two things about computers: I know when they work, and I know when they don’t work.

    Favorite music...
    I’m a big '70s, '80s, '90s guy. I like country; I don’t like the twangy original country. I like the ALAN JACKSON-GEORGE STRAIT type of country. A little more towards a ballad than a hard song. I’m a big JIMMY BUFFETT fan.

    For relaxation...
    My wife and I have a second property, it’s twelve acres, and I mow most of it. I like to get on the tractor or the mower and mow. I can get on there and solve a lot of the world’s problems, and the only thing I really have to focus on is keeping my lines straight.

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  • Executive Transactions

    Major League Gaming has named Rockets GM DARYL MOREY to its BOD. Morey will aid MLG in its efforts to move the league and competitive gaming in general into more mainstream positions. "His experience in the NBA, emphasis on data and technology, and passion for video games, make him the perfect addition," said MLG co-Founder & CEO SUNDANCE DIGIOVANNI. MLG also hired GREG CHISHOLM as CFO and ALLEN DE LA CRUZ as Senior VP/Engineering. Chisholm previously was with McKinsey & Co., while De La Cruz was with Yahoo as lead engineer and architect of its video player platform (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

    SWITCHING FIELDS: MLS Chivas USA yesterday named ARTURO GALVEZ President & Chief Business Officer. He replaces JOSE DAVID (MLSSOCCER.com, 9/17). David was named to the post last October and "oversaw an offseason overhaul of the roster and coaching staff that brought the club closer to its Mexican roots." The movement "has been a source of controversy, with the organization facing discrimination lawsuits" (GOAL.com, 9/17).

    EXECS: NASCAR Technical Institute promoted Community & Team Relations Dir JOHN DODSON to VP/NASCAR & Community Relations (THE DAILY)....The Baseball HOF promoted BRAD HORN to VP/Communications & Education, KEN MEIFERT to VP/Sponsorship & Development and ERIK STROHL to VP/Exhibitions & Collections (Fisher)....Priority Sports & Entertainment named VSA Partners Senior Writer CHRIS SILVA Dir of Communications & Brand Strategy. Silva previously worked for the Thunder and produced a blog for Thunder F KEVIN DURANT's personal website. He will be based out of Chicago (PSE)....Northern Illinois Univ. named Univ. of Wisconsin Dir of Development RYAN SEDEVIE Associate AD/Collegiate Advancement & External Affairs (NIU)....Sources said that former NBAer JARED JEFFRIES "has accepted" a scouting role with the Nuggets (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/17)....The Bulls promoted Special Assistant to the GM RANDY BROWN to Assistant GM and European scout IVICA DUKAN to Int'l Scouting Dir & Special Assistant to the GM (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/17)....The Single-A California League High Desert Mavericks named California-based Sports Syndicate agent RYAN COOK GM (Mavericks)....Rodale promoted MOLLY O'KEEFE to Publisher of Runner's World and Running Times and ZACK GRICE to Associate Publisher for Sales & Marketing for Bicycling magazine, both effective immediately (Rodale).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Names In The News

    Jacobsen's firm has contributed over $40M to nonprofits in the U.S.

    Golfer PETER JACOBSEN yesterday was "named the recipient of the 2013 Payne Stewart Award, presented annually to the professional golfer who best exemplifies the values of character, charity and sportsmanship." The award is named for the late PAYNE STEWART, "one of Jacobsen's closest friends." Jacobsen has "contributed to countless charitable endeavors with both time and resources over the years." His longtime marketing and management firm, Peter Jacobsen Sports, has "hosted more than 250 events worldwide and contributed" more than $40M to a host of nonprofits across the U.S. He said, "I can't tell you how much this means to me" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/18).

    CLIMBING THE HILL: Gold Medal-winning U.S. snowboarder SHAUN WHITE yesterday appeared live in-studio on "CBS This Morning" to discuss his preparations for the '14 Sochi Games. CBS' Gayle King asked White about cutting his hair, which he donated to Locks of Love. King: "When you cut your hair did you lose your superpowers?" White replied, "I hope not. No, it's been good." White noted one of his biggest competitors at the Olympics likely will be Russian YURI PODLADCHIKOV. White: "I'm treating it like it's the 'ROCKY' scenario" ("CBS This Morning," 9/17).

    GET IN THE HOT TUB TIME MACHINE: Actor STEPHEN RANNAZZISI appeared on TBS' "Conan" last night and reminisced on his time working on MTV's "PUNK'D" when Yankees 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ was the target. Rannazzisi said, "He kind of got upset and charged at me and was going to swing." Rannazzisi played a waiter from Boston who served Rodriguez and his dinner party around the time when the Rangers were trying to trade Rodriguez to the Red Sox. Rannazzisi said he "basically crapped on him the entire time, telling him we didn’t want him in Boston, that's he never won anything, that I'd take JETER over him, and he was a really great sport. He was taking it, and taking it and taking it. Then at the very end, I came over and dropped the check and told his wife, 'I know he's a millionaire, but if you ever want to get a real man I'm right over here.'" Rannazzisi: "He comes at me and I'm like, 'You're on 'Punk'd!'" ("Conan," TBS, 9/17).

    THAT'S HOLLYWOOD: Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast GABBY DOUGLAS is "getting a TV biopic." Lifetime network has "greenlighted 'THE GABBY DOUGLAS STORY' (working title), an original movie starring" IMANI HAKIM and SYDNEY MIKAYLA as Douglas, REGINA KING as her mother and S. EPATHA MERKERSON as her grandmother (DEADLINE.com, 9/16)....Directors MICHAEL HAMILTON and COREY OGILVIE have "launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $110,000 in funding to market 'NASH: THE DOCUMENTARY,'" based on Lakers G STEVE NASH. Contributions will "be accepted until Oct. 16" (LATIMES.com, 9/17).

    NAMES: ESPN Exec VP & Chief Technology Officer CHUCK PAGANO served as Fenway Park's guest PA announcer during Saturday's Yankees-Red Sox game. Pagano, an original ESPN employee, said, "It was exhausting, exhilarating and had an air of romance to it" (ESPN). IndyCar driver RYAN HUNTER-REAY will "join about 2,500 riders" in the fourth Dolphins Cycling Challenge, peddling to "raise money for cancer research" at the Univ. of Miami's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 9/17)....WNBA Fever F TAMIKA CATCHINGS and IndyCar driver CONOR DALY were named to the Indianapolis Star’s Super Single Series, which highlights the city’s “coolest local singles.” Catchings said of asking guys out on dates, “I do not ask guys out. If I like somebody, I’ll let them know I like them” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/18)....NASCAR driver DANICA PATRICK is joining country singer TRACE ADKINS as co-host of the Dec. 10 American Country Awards (AP, 9/17)....Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT and his girlfriend, RICKI LANDER, on Monday attended Patriots LB JEROD MAYO's charity event, the Mayo Bowl (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/18)....Clippers coach DOC RIVERS sold his 1,801-square-foot, two-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom luxury condo on Boston's Boylston Street for $3M on July 26 (WEEI.com, 9/17).

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