The Maven's Heckman, Levinsohn Talk SI Acquisition, Business Model
The Maven Founder & CEO James Heckman and new SI CEO Ross Levinsohn appeared together at Recode's Code Media event and discussed the acquisition of SI by The Maven, with Levinsohn saying, "I'm working every day really hard to transform the greatest brand that I grew up with." Heckman said SI has a "great brand, great reporters, unbelievable tradition, but they were in the wrong business model; they were still operating in the early 1990s in terms of print, trying to get out news." Heckman added The Maven saw an "opportunity that if we take the talent of those journalists, we take the brand of SI and instead of a one-portal model," the publication has "already rolled out one hundred channels under the SI brand." Heckman: "In 30 days, we're up four million users, because consumers don't go to portals anymore." Heckman said SI is "bringing in specialists" in niche sports and activities, which is the "model of the future." Levinsohn: "The narrative that came out when we took over was, 'They're firing all the journalists and replacing them with bloggers.' ... The focus was on the 50 or so we didn't hire when we took over the company. No one's writing we put 84 in business." Heckman: "We didn't lay anybody off. Meredith -- I'm just going to be blunt -- gave up on the property. They asked us to take the property sooner than we were ready, and so we agreed to do it. But we bought the brand Sports Illustrated. We didn't buy the company" (VOX.com, 11/18).