Ross Levinsohn

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Ross B. Levinsohn
RL Photo.jpg
Born1964
New York City, New York, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Alma materAmerican University
OccupationPublisher, Los Angeles Times
CEO, Tribune Interactive, LLC

Ross Levinsohn (born 1964) is the CEO of Tribune Interactive, the digital arm of tronc, Inc., owner of more than 100 newspaper brands [1]and former executive at Yahoo and Fox Interactive Media. At Yahoo, he served as Interim CEO in 2012 after serving as Executive Vice President, Americas, and Head of Global Media. Levinsohn served as President of Fox Interactive where he helped create the largest digital businesses amongst the traditional media companies.[2]

Early life[edit]

Levinsohn was born in New York City[3] and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, the son of Joyce (née Salton) and Jay Douglas Levinsohn.[4][5] He has one sister, Sharon.[4] His father was a World War II veteran and worked in the clothing business.[4] He graduated from Tenafly High School in 1981, where he lettered in football, soccer, golf and baseball for the varsity teams.[3] Levinsohn graduated from American University with a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications.[6] He joined its board of trustees in 2015.

Work[edit]

Early career[edit]

While in college, Levinsohn's entrepreneurial nature took shape, when he and his college roommate started a promotional company named Ross Productions.[citation needed] Building a database of students and young executives in the Washington, DC area, the company staged events on a nightly and weekly basis.[citation needed] Upon graduating, Levinsohn moved to New York and joined Saatchi & Saatchi focused on advertising accounts for daytime dramas as part of the Procter and Gamble account including As The World Turns and Guiding Light.[citation needed] Following, Levinsohn worked in sports marketing and promotion at Lapin & Rose where he helped promote and market some of the biggest boxing events globally including the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler "Superfight" and later he joined sports marketing and management powerhouse ProServ which represented the likes of Michael Jordan and Jimmy Connors.[citation needed]. Levinsohn developed marketing and promotional campaigns for athletes, TV and events, and dabbled at representing athletes during this period.[citation needed]

Marketing and promotions[edit]

His previous experience led him to a new role in 1989 at HBO in marketing and promotions for the pay cable giant and its newly formed unit, Time Warner Sports.[citation needed] Levinsohn was promoted in 1993 to launch a new group that created and oversaw new production, licensing and ventures to expand and monetize the HBO brand across all platforms, which led to his first foray in digital.[citation needed] In 1994, he helped develop content for CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online on behalf of HBO. In 1995, he was recognized as one of the "30 under 30" media execs by GQ Magazine..[citation needed]

Internet[edit]

In early 1996 Levinsohn was recruited by SportsLine USA founder Mike Levy, to join the startup sports website in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.[7] He oversaw all content and product for the company, which quickly grew to become one of the most important sites in the early days of the internet.[citation needed] In 1997, during the first growth phase of the industry, SportsLine raised money from Kleiner Perkins and then went public through a highly successful IPO.[citation needed] CBS bought a piece of the company and rebranded it CBS Sportsline.com.[citation needed] Levinsohn went on to expand the content and product offerings including building the largest and most successful Fantasy Sports business in the industry at the time, and official websites for superstars Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Shaq O'Neill, Pete Sampras and the San Francisco 49ers.[citation needed] He and also produced a syndicated television show starring NFL coaches Marv Levy and Sam Wyche, and host Scott Kaplan entitled "Football Playbook" and syndicated radio programming on Westwood One. He is credited with helping launch the careers of personalities including Kaplan and sports "shock jock" Sid Rosenberg.[citation needed]

During the height of the first Internet boom, Levinsohn was recruited to help envision and launch the portal division for online search giant Alta Vista in 1999.[citation needed] At the time, Alta Vista was the leading search engine in the world.[citation needed] Within six months Alta Vista Live was launched and quickly grew to one of the most popular content and services sites in the world. Alta Vista was days away from going public in March 2000, when the first crash of the Internet occurred.[citation needed] Following the crash, Alta Vista was sold to Inktomi, which later was acquired by Yahoo.[citation needed]

News Corporation[edit]

In 2000, Levinsohn joined the internet division of News Corporation, News Digital Media.[citation needed] From 2001 to 2005, he was Senior Vice President and General Manager at Fox Sports Interactive Media where he led the interactive sports business for Fox, including the FoxSports.com site, which grew from a few hundred thousand users to more than 35 million monthly users and competed as the most popular sports site in the United States.[citation needed] In late 2004, he was tasked with developing a broader digital strategy for the global media powerhouse and was named President of Fox Interactive Media.[citation needed] A direct report to Rupert Murdoch and Peter Chernin, Levinsohn assumed day-to-day operating responsibility for the main Fox web properties including Fox Sports.com, Fox.com, and Fox News.com and spearheaded an investment and acquisition strategy that led to the acquisitions of MySpace, IGN, Askmen.com, Scout.com, Newroo and KSolo.[8] In less than a year, Fox's Internet properties went from an also ran to the top of the industry, and were generating more page views than any other sites in the United States, in large part due to the growth of MySpace.[citation needed] Fox acquired MySpace in 2005 long before the social networking boom.[citation needed] MySpace, at the time, was adding roughly 70,000 new users a day.[citation needed] A year later the site was adding more than 15 million new users a month and revenue had grown to over $200 million a year.[citation needed] Capitalizing on this success, in 2006, Fox Interactive signed a search and advertising deal in which Google paid Fox for exclusive rights to certain search and some display inventory for nearly $1 billion.[citation needed] Fox Interactive Media's properties grew to a become one of the most 5 most visited businesses on the web during Levinsohn's tenure and maintained its growth for more than a year after his dismissal by News Corp President Peter Chernin.[citation needed]

Fuse Capital[edit]

Having acquired and invested in dozens of companies, and finding a passion for fostering entrepreneurs, in December 2007, Levinsohn and former AOL Chairman Jonathan Miller launched Velocity Interactive Group, a media and communications investment fund along with India's Keyur Patel.[citation needed] Levinsohn and Miller failed to raise any capital on their own and eventually joined with Silicon Valley venture firm ComVentures, re-branded as Fuse Capital, the partners invested in early stage startup in the US, India and China.[citation needed] In India, it led investments in leading media outlets NDTV and India TV, and Fuse+Media, which financed motion pictures, while domestically the company invested in the likes of Generate (sold to Alloy), Broadband Enterprises (sold to Specific Media), Next New Networks (sold to Google) and 5:1 (sold to Yahoo).[citation needed]

Yahoo[edit]

In October 2010, Levinsohn was recruited by Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz to lead the company's largest division, Yahoo Americas, where he assumed responsibility for its massive media and advertising businesses.[9] After leadership changes at the top of the company, new CEO Scott Thompson named Levinsohn Head of Global Media for a brief period of time, before Thompson's exit.[10]

He was Interim Yahoo CEO in 2012 after Thompson left Yahoo.[11] In August 2012, the Board surprised many inside and outside the company by naming Google executive Marissa Mayer to lead Yahoo. Shortly after the Mayer appointment, Levinsohn left the company in August.[12]

Guggenheim[edit]

Following his exit at Yahoo, Levinsohn joined investment manager Guggenheim Securities, where he assumed a new role as CEO of Guggenheim Digital Media.[13] In this role, he was tasked with investing and acquiring media assets, and actively pursued both Hulu and Vevo as potential acquisitions.[citation needed] He also oversaw a portfolio of assets already under management by Guggenheim including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek and the Clio Awards.[citation needed]

Los Angeles Times[edit]

On 21 August 2017, Levinsohn was named the publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times by tronc, replacing Davan Maharaj.[14] In January 2018, the newspaper was sold to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong[15] and Levinsohn was named to his new post of CEO, Tribune Interactive, LLC

Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior[edit]

In 2018, an NPR investigation found that accusations of "frat-house" behavior had followed Levinsohn earlier in his career, based on two separate lawsuits and dozens of interviews with former coworkers [16]. The article described "a pattern of questionable behavior and questionable decisions on the job," including the use of a homophobic slur and, according to Levinsohn's own sworn testimony, rating the "hotness" of female coworkers and speculating about whether one female employee worked as a stripper. Levinsohn denied these allegations.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Inc., tronc,. "tronc Announces National Digital Strategy".
  2. ^ Reuters, From (16 July 2005). "News Corp. Forms Internet Division". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b Newman, Richard; Yellin, Deena; and Superville, Denisa R. "Tenafly grad takes helm at Yahoo", The Record (Bergen County), 15 May 2012. Accessed 17 May 2012. "In choosing former Tenafly resident Ross Levinsohn as its interim CEO on Monday, embattled Yahoo! Inc. picked a man who is focused, driven and confident.... Levinsohn graduated in 1981 from Tenafly High School, where he was a goalkeeper on the soccer team before switching to football"
  4. ^ a b c "Jay Douglas Levinsohn". Los Angeles Times. January 23, 2014.
  5. ^ "January 2016". Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey. November 2016.
  6. ^ Ross B. Levinsohn. "Ross Levinsohn: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  7. ^ "CBS Corporation and SportsLine USA Extend Strategic Alliance".
  8. ^ Jarboe, Greg; Reider, Suzie (17 August 2009). YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-0-470-45969-0. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Levinsohn Joins Yahoo".
  10. ^ "With Scott Thompson Out at Yahoo, Former PayPal Colleague Heads for Exit".
  11. ^ "Yahoo! Names Fred Amoroso Chairman and Appoints Ross Levinsohn Interim CEO (NASDAQ:YHOO)". Investor.yahoo.net. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn leaves company". Reuters. 30 July 2012.
  13. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (15 January 2013). "Ross Levinsohn to run new digital biz".
  14. ^ "Ross Levinsohn is named the new publisher and CEO of the L.A. Times as top editors are ousted". Los Angeles Times. 21 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Tronc Sells L.A. Times to Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong". The Hollywood Reporter.
  16. ^ Folkenflik, David (18 January 2018). "Accusations Of 'Frat House' Behavior Trail 'LA Times' Publisher's Career".
Business positions
Preceded by
Scott Thompson
Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!
Acting

2012
Succeeded by
Marissa Mayer