Jerry Powers, the founder of Ocean Drive magazine, is out as CEO of Plum TV, the luxury local cable network and fledgling publishing group, following a gambling debt scandal. Tom Scott, who founded the company, has returned as acting CEO.
“I resigned yesterday morning,” Powers confirmed Friday by phone from his Florida home. He said he was in the process of preparing a statement.
“There was a board meeting yesterday,” said Robbie Vorhaus, a spokesman for Plum TV. “The board received, totally unexpected, without cause, his letter of resignation. ... We’re trying to figure it out now, too.” Vorhaus added that the company's strategy remains unchanged.
Powers founded Ocean Drive, a Miami luxury lifestyle glossy that’s delivered free to affluent residents, in 1993 with former business partner Jason Binn. The two turned it into a string of city-specific glossies that they ran together until Las Vegas-based Greenspun Media Group bought the magazine in 2007 and consolidated it under Niche Media. Binn remains there in the role of chairman, but Powers eventually was forced out.
Powers jumped back into the luxury arena in November 2010 when he was named executive chairman and board co-chair at Plum to lead its expansion into magazines, film, events, and digital content. He quickly rose to CEO and under him, Plum launched two glossies this year, in Miami and the Hamptons, with an Aspen edition set to launch in November.
But earlier this year, he ran into pressure from the board to settle a $1.2 million gambling debt he racked up from the Mohegan Sun casino in 2009. He settled the debt in March.
Plum also made headlines when Niche launched a legal attack in April. Niche sought an injunction to bar its former ad sales director from taking advertisers to Plum TV, to which the director had defected in July 2010.
In this latest leadership shakeup, Scott becomes Plum's fourth CEO in less than a year. Powers succeeded Nicholas Lehman, who became CEO in November 2010, following Brian Bedol, who was acting CEO.