Sports Illustrated sells publishing rights to Seattle-based Maven, led by former Yahoo exec

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James Heckman.

Maven, a small Seattle-based publicly-traded digital media company, has purchased the rights to publish Sports Illustrated.

The New York Post reported that New York City-based licensing firm Authentic Brands Group, which bought Sports Illustrated last month from Meredith, sold the magazine’s print and digital publishing rights to Maven.

A new SEC filing indicates that Maven paid $45 million against future royalties for the rights, which include a revenue-sharing deal and will last at least a decade. The company launched in 2017 and is led by James Heckman, the Rivals.com founder and former Yahoo executive.

Ex-Yahoo CEO and former Los Angeles Times publisher Ross Levinsohn, who sits on Maven’s board, will head up Sports Illustrated Media, a new arm of Maven.

Authentic Brands Group, which owns brands such as Nautica and Juicy Couture, paid $110 million last month to Meredith for Sports Illustrated. Under the terms of that deal, Meredith — which paid $2.8 billion for Time Inc. empire last year — still planned to publish Sports Illustrated in exchange for a licensing fee.

Maven — called “TheMaven” in SEC filings — bills itself as “a media coalition of professional content destinations (“mavens”), operating exclusively on a shared digital publishing, advertising and distribution platform, providing a major media scale alternative to news and information distributed on social platforms.” In its end-of-2018 investor documents, the coalition model is described as “independent media mavens operating on a shared business services platform and earning equity in the company. A proven business model that has succeeded for this team multiple times.”

Maven reported $23.6 million in revenue for 2018, and 106 million monthly unique users as of December 31. Last week, Maven acquired finance media company TheStreet for $16.5 million.

The company has a coalition of more than 300 brands, including History, Maxim, Yoga Journal, SKI Magazine, and others. Its executive team includes President Josh Jacobs, another ex-Yahoo exec who was the former president at Kik Interactive and Omnicom Media Group; COO Paul Edmondson, a Microsoft vet whose startup HubPages was acquired by Maven; Chief Product Officer Ben Trott, whose startup Say Media was also acquired by Maven; CTO Ben Joldersma, a veteran of Microsoft, aQuantive, Rivals.com, and Scout.com (which Heckman also started); and others.

Editor’s note: This post was updated to reflect Maven’s company name. 



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