Media shakeup: Calacanis, Levinsohn are out. Who's next?
Wow. What a busy, busy Thursday it was for human resources at two big media giants. Before The Browser had digested our lunch, news leaked that blog-impresario Jason Calacanis, seemingly in mid-stride on his relaunch of Netscape.com, is leaving AOL. Then came reports that Ross Levinsohn is moving out of the executive suite at Fox Interactive Media, apparently to pursue unspecified independent ventures.
News of the Calacanis departure, appropriately enough, was broken by a blog. Calacanis is strangely quiet, although he did change the "No Comment" to "Yes, it's true..." on his own blog. The short of it seems to be that when AOL CEO Jon Miller was ousted, Calacanis no longer felt a strong need to stick around. Famously smart and abrasive, it's also possibly that nobody else felt a strong desire to keep him around. The long story, of course, will come out eventually.
The Miller angle sounds plausible, though, as Calacanis on Wednesday publicly lamented Miller's pink slip: "Today was a very sad day for me," he wrote. "One of the few mentors I've had in my life, Jon Miller, was replaced as CEO of AOL." As to this show of emotion, Gawker Media's Nick Denton - now on Valleywag beat after he booted the gossip site's editor - commented: "...touching, but not very politic, to describe the outgoing boss as a mentor, quite so publicly, unless you're planning to quit anyway under the new regime." Denton then predicts Calacanis is headed back to his roots in startup land. "He'll be loud, infuriating -- and probably, irritatingly, successful."
At Fox, it's a tale of two Levinsohns. Out goes Ross, the man who scored MySpace for Rupert Murdoch, and in comes his cousin, Peter Levinsohn. As president of digital media at Fox, Cousin Peter previously did boring things like negotiate "revenue sharing" deals with Fox affiliates. Om Malik, who profiled Levinsohn in Business 2.0 magazine this year, was on top of the news early:
Our sources say that Ross Levinsohn is planning to start a new kind of media operation, and there is considerable interest (and funding) for whatever his plans might be. We are also hearing from fairly reliable sources that Levinsohn plans to raise this money and buy-and-aggregate an online media property of high traffic sites.The moral of the story? It wouldn't be 'new media' if things didn't change fast.
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