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Bleacher Report CEO Departing

Veteran Turner exec will run popular sports blog

The Bleacher Report

Brian Grey, CEO of Bleacher Report, the highly trafficked sports blog network that Turner bought a year ago, is leaving the company, Turner Sports evp/COO Lenny Daniels said in a memo to staff today.

"As we began planning for 2014 and beyond, Matt Hong and I spent a considerable amount of time with Brian Grey discussing the future structure of Bleacher Report," Daniels said in the memo. "After much consideration and successfully leading B/R through its yearlong transition with Turner, we all agreed that now is the right time for Brian to take a step-back from his role as CEO of B/R and svp of Turner Sports to pursue the next chapter in his professional career. Brian has been a great advocate for Bleacher Report and played a key role in helping to build its business model. I have enjoyed working with Brian and appreciate all of his efforts on behalf of the company."

Going forward, Hong, svp and gm of sports operations at Turner Sports, will run the site, Daniels said. Turner bought Bleacher Report about a year ago, and the site has recently started to prioritize higher-quality video content, especially around the NFL, while hiring a slew of well known journalists.

In a missive of his own, Grey thanked colleagues and reflected on his tenure at the site over the past three years. "First, thank you to the entire Turner and Time Warner team who has been part of bringing B/R into the Turner Sports family, as well as those who we have met post acquisition and who have helped make the integration unfold so successfully," he said.

Of course, it's fairly common for executives to stay through a transition period after a company is acquired, then head for the door to pursue other opportunities.

Read Daniels' note below:

TO:         TURNER SPORTS EMPLOYEES

FROM:   LENNY DANIELS

DATE:    OCTOBER 3, 2013


It has been a little more than a year since Turner Broadcasting acquired Bleacher Report. Like any union, the first year is often the most important as it provides a foundation for the relationship and sets the stage for the future. During our inaugural year together, there have been tremendous strides taken to leverage the core strengths of each business and maximize our opportunities.

The initial results have led to strong momentum and success for Bleacher Report. The brand continues to experience audience growth, while also launching new innovative products, generating new revenue opportunities, and attracting industry-leading writers/reporters to our site. We still have plenty of work ahead and we’ve only scratched the surface of what we collectively can do together for this terrific brand.

As we began planning for 2014 and beyond, Matt Hong and I spent a considerable amount of time with Brian Grey discussing the future structure of Bleacher Report. After much consideration and successfully leading B/R through its yearlong transition with Turner, we all agreed that now is the right time for Brian to take a step-back from his role as CEO of B/R and SVP of Turner Sports to pursue the next chapter in his professional career. Brian has been a great advocate for Bleacher Report and played a key role in helping to build its business model. I have enjoyed working with Brian and appreciate all of his efforts on behalf of the company.

Moving forward, I have asked Matt to lead Bleacher Report in an expansion of his current role and responsibilities. Effective today, Matt adds executive responsibility for B/R to his existing oversight of our division’s sports operations and digital portfolio. From the onset of our initial interest in Bleacher Report, during the acquisition stage and throughout the past year, Matt has been an instrumental figure in leading the integration of the brand into the Turner portfolio.

With this newly-expanded role, Matt adds Dave Finocchio, co-founder and chief content officer, and Sam Parnell, chief technology officer, to his direct report team that includes Alex Vargas, Michael Adamson, Alexandra Garcia, Mark Johnson, Tom Sahara, Pete Scott and Gary Treater. Based on Matt’s experience and record of success, coupled with his current responsibilities, I’m confident he is the right person to help lead the direction and further build upon B/R’s momentum and growth, working closely with senior leaders like Dave, Sam, Alex and Rich Calacci, chief revenue officer. Rich will continue to report to Greg D’Alba, president, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Ad Sales and Marketing, and will be based in Turner’s New York office.

As part of this new organizational structure, Dave will take on a larger leadership role within Bleacher Report, overseeing day-to-day functions. Having conceived of and guided B/R from its origin, Dave's visionary thinking will help lead the brand to its next generation, as well as preserve a company culture that continues to distinguish and make Bleacher Report successful in the marketplace.

Perhaps the most significant contribution to our success this first year is the similar culture which permeates throughout our organization and its offices in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. As we embark on the next chapter, the hard work and spirit of collaboration demonstrated by everyone within our division will continue to be the hallmark of our success.

Please join me in thanking Brian for his contributions and wishing Matt continued success in his expanded role.

And Grey's note:

Hey Gang,

As Lenny explained earlier this morning, today begins the next chapter in what has been an amazing story – and one that I am immensely proud to have been a part of for more than 3 years.  I don’t have enough space (or time) to reflect fully on everything we’ve been through together; we can save that for when I hope to see all of you in my future travels.

Let me instead focus on a couple big “thanks” …and to deliver a couple important messages to you all.

First, thank you to the entire Turner and Time Warner team who has been part of bringing B/R into the Turner Sports family, as well as those who we have met post acquisition and who have helped make the integration unfold so successfully.  I can’t list you all, but thanks to leaders like Phil Kent, David Levy, Kelly Regal, Lenny Daniels, John Kampfe, Greg Mazur, Angela Santone, Elizabeth Casanas, Matt Hong, Craig Barry, Christina Miller, Jon Diament, Sal Petruzzi, Greg D’Alba, Jim Burtson, and many, many more.  The success we have had in terms of setting new highs post acquisition couldn’t have happened without your and your respective teams’ collective support.

Next, thank you to the B/R team – starting with the core group of Sam, Dave, Bill, and Rich (and Drew, Dave, and Bryan) for their leadership in key areas across the business, as well as for their collaboration as a senior team unified behind the simple but challenging goals of building the B/R audience and brand, and engaging with marketers to effectively monetize the unique consumer experience that is B/R.

And most importantly, thank you to each and every one of you reading this note who contribute to the success of B/R through your daily efforts.  Every single day I was inspired by the passion, expertise, and desire each of you brought to B/R to build something truly special that collectively created that hard to define – and even harder to maintain -- thing we call “culture”.

So as I step away as CEO, let me wrap with a couple important messages:

B/R is in great hands with the core leadership group led by Matt, Sam, Dave, Rich, Bill and Alex, coupled with the support of every group within Turner Sports to continue building the B/R platform.

I encourage (actually, implore!) you to continue building the ethos of “team” that we have embraced at B/R as well as the open “test and learn” approach that we apply to everything B/R pursues.

And last, know that I am here to help David, Lenny and everyone  associated with B/R and Turner be as successful as possible in the next chapter for this amazing company.

Best wishes to you all and I look forward to helping you all in any way I can...and consider this your final SEC from me. 

“Have a great week everyone” ;-)

BGrey

 

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