Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder, Chair & CEO TED LEONSIS on Thursday was named Groupon co-CEO after the "troubled daily-deals" website’s Founder ANDREW MASON was fired the same day, according to Thomas Heath of the WASHINGTON POST. Leonsis, a major investor in Groupon, joins Exec Chair ERIC LEFKOFSKY as co-CEO (WASHINGTON POST, 3/1). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Tom Gara noted Leonsis, a "veteran of the first dotcom bubble, finds himself running a company suffering in the wake of the latest wave of inflated digital expectations." He joined AOL '93 and became a central figure during the company's "explosive growth phase." But the fallout from the dotcom bubble bursting "was not pretty." Leonsis "stayed with AOL after the bust," eventually leaving in '06 "after helping it recover from the depths of the crash." Some of Leonsis' institutional memory "comes from seeing a company rise, fall, and gradually rebuild itself could come in handy as he tries to steer Groupon out of its funk." Convincing investors he "can do that will be tricky but essential" (WSJ.com, 2/28). CNBC’s Joe Kernen said of Leonsis' move, “That’s weird, isn’t it?” CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin: “We should have Ted on the show to talk about what the heck he’s thinking” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 3/1).
People and Pop Culture
There are not many chances for NBC Sports Ventures VP/Sales STEVEN JUSTMAN to spin his wheels during the week, so he takes his weekend mornings at home in Armonk, N.Y., to cycle around Westchester County with some close friends. When he is not on the road pedaling, he can be found pedaling around to one of his daughters’ sporting events.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK: Typically, Friday nights I try to make a tradition of having dinner with the family. My wife and I try and take the girls out. Both of my girls are very active in playing sports. So typically, including Friday nights, I’m often at a game: whether it be basketball, soccer or lacrosse. Friday night there’s a basketball game. So I’m coming right off the train in my suit. In that case we’ll take the girls out for dinner after the game with their friends. What’s nice about my girls playing sports is that they’ll play with all their friends so that the families are kind of their own little fraternity. So we kind of travel in packs, which is nice because it becomes a very social setting as well. Though I think at times the parents are more interested in the outcome of the game than the kids are. I try to strike a healthy balance.
PEDAL TO THE METAL: On weekend mornings, as long as it’s over 30 degrees I’m going to be on my bike. I’m a big cyclist and have a great group of guys that I ride with. There’s about eight to 10 of us and we’re usually out on the road for several hours. Most of the group is either accomplished surgeons, there’s a few other doctors and a couple of investment bankers. What’s fun is we talk about all different things and none of them really understand what I do for a living. They find it interesting. It’s also a group that supports friendly competition. ... I’m not sure friendly comes before competition. We typically ride forty to sixty miles.
MILK DOES THE BODY GOOD: We have a home base, it’s a friend of mine. After the ride his wife is very, very generous and puts out a big spread for us every single time we go. First thing in my body is chocolate milk because I read somewhere that’s a good recovery drink. It’s the protein and the carbs, but any reason I can to drink chocolate milk I’m just going to take advantage of.
MISTER DO-IT-YOURSELF: I like just doing stuff around the house. I grew up in an apartment in Queens in Forrest Hills. So now that I’m a homeowner it’s like a big playroom for me. I like to work with my hands, so I’m always fixing things or doing projects around the house. I enjoy manual labor.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Saturday night is usually a date night. Usually it’s either going to a movie or going to dinner, either with ourselves or sometimes we go with friends in our town. We just like to go for a nice, mellow dinner. Enjoy the food, enjoy the company, enjoy the conversation. Because we live in northern Westchester, you can kind of go off the beaten path. There’s some really great places that have a warm country feel to them, where there’s a fire going and a lot of old-style charm to the restaurant and a history. Those are places I like a lot.
KEEPING IT OLD-SCHOOL: I’m not a huge TV watcher outside of sports. I live through technology but I purposely on Saturday and Sunday get the N.Y. Times. I enjoy just the discovery of reading articles that I may not discover going through the Times or the Wall Street Journal on my iPad. There’s something nostalgic about it, there’s something traditional about it that I’d like to hold on to. That’s the only magazine or publication I still receive in printed form.
NAME THAT TUNE: I’m familiar with so many songs that appear on kids television that I could pretty much name them. If there was a “Name That Tune” of kids' TV songs and theme songs, unfortunately I think I’d win. The girls will watch all these shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings. So I can now recite these songs to memory. I’m sitting there reading the paper and they’re watching their shows. So I’ve pretty much committed most of those songs to memory.
Turner Broadcasting named Turner Sports Dir & GM for NASCAR.com JUSTIN WILLIAMS VP/Digital for TNT and TBS. Williams will “head up both networks’ continued TV Everywhere push as well as overseeing awareness and engagement within their digital properties" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 2/28)….The Falcons promoted Dir of Football Administration NICK POLK to Dir of Football Operations (AJC.com, 2/28)….Georgetown Univ. named Univ. of Maryland Senior Associate AD/Compliance DAN TRUMP Senior Associate AD/Internal Operations. The school also promoted DAN O’NEIL to Senior Associate AD/External Affairs (Georgetown)….The Univ. of Delaware named Univ. of South Florida Assistant AD/Compliance RICK STUMPF Associate AD/Compliance (Delaware)….American Univ. named Air Force Academy Deputy AD BILLY WALKER AD (American)….The Orange County Register named FoxSports.com Coordinating Editor JIM MCCURDIE Sports Copy Editor (THE DAILY).
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The NBA and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital have partnered through the "NBA Cares" program to raise funds during "Hoops for St. Jude Week," which began on Sunday and runs through March 4. Grizzlies C MARC GASOL, an NBA ambassador for St. Jude's, said, "We have the same worries and the same things that go in everybody's minds. Everybody wants their kids healthy, and if for some reason anything goes wrong, St. Jude's is the place to be" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 2/27).
NEW VENTURES: Rays 3B EVAN LONGORIA has "invested his money" with a new boutique sports bar, Ducky's Sports Lounge, set to open this spring in Tampa. He is "one of three main investors, and seven overall owners" in the $850,000 project near the Univ. of Tampa (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/28)....Red Sox Chair TOM WERNER is among a group of investors to put $3M into "what they consider the next great fast-casual dining brand: Blaze Pizza." The restaurant has two locations, in Irvine and Pasadena, Calif. (N.Y. POST, 3/1)....Jamba Juice and 49ers TE VERNON DAVIS announced the signing of a store development agreement. Davis plans to open two new Jamba Juice stores in the Santa Clara area over the next two years, with an option to open two more stores in the same area over the following two years (Jamba Juice).
ON THE BIG SCREEN: Madison, Wis.-based filmmaker MICHAEL NEELSEN has produced a new documentary entitled, “Last Day at Lambeau.” He started filming a week before former NFLer BRETT FAVRE's final game at Lambeau Field, playing against his former team as the Vikings visited the Packers on Oct. 24, 2010. Favre “doesn’t appear in the documentary, though Neelsen tried to contact him through his agent, BUS COOK.” However, Neelsen said that it actually was “sort of [a] blessing” Favre did not appear in the film (THENORTHWESTERN.com, 2/28).
NAMES: The owners of JJ's Restaurant in K.C. have established a trust fund to "oversee donations to take care of the needs of injured staff members" affected by an explosion last week. AEG President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE, whose company manages the Sprint Center and the Sprint Center Foundation, will contribute $50,000 to the fund (K.C. STAR, 3/1)....Blackstone Group co-Founder, Chair & CEO STEPHEN SCHWARZMAN has donated $500,000 to the USATF Foundation (Blackstone)....Actor WILLIAM SHATNER will appear as a homeplate umpire at Fenway Park in an upcoming music video for singer BRIAN EVANS (USA TODAY, 3/1)....Longtime Ft. Worth Star-Telegram columnist and ESPN Radio host RANDY GALLOWAY will be honored at the ’13 Bobby Bragan Lifetime Achievement Award Gala in November (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 2/28)….Oracle Founder & CEO LARRY ELLISON has purchased Island Air airlines, which services much of Hawaii, less than a year after buying the Hawaiian island of Lenai (CNBC.com, 2/27)....Fortune magazine ranked Nike No. 18 on its list of the world's most admired companies (MONEY.CNN.com, 2/28).