Recently, Ross Levinsohn and the leadership team at The Arena Group (formerly known as Maven) began to envision a new way for interested parties in the sports sector to be able to communicate. Though the company owns and operates 103 digital sports sites, the team saw that there was great potential in creating a vertical-centric approach to integrate these types of sites into a more cohesive, easier-to-navigate opportunity for fans, media, journalists, publishers, advertisers, and brands alike. This concept was the basis for the rebrand of Maven to The Arena Group, a rebrand that showcases their new focus on scalable media verticals. The process and ideation for the new brand were started last year as consumers sought new ways to support and participate in communities focused on the sports that they love.
This new concept is focused on continuing to roll the professional sports industry through digital transformation, creating new opportunities for the industry to connect stakeholders, media, and fans alike. The concept was the idea of creating "Arenas" or scalable media verticals that are based on a single dynamic technical platform, which are each focused around strong consumer passions for a particular sport, team or brand. These digital destinations create a solid ecosystem for people, teams, brands, and the media to interact and share their passion for the sport. The process was driven by the significant uptick in subscriptions last year, an increase of 91%, which has helped fund the new approach to media verticals in the professional sports industry.
Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Maven and now The Arena Group, as well as Sports Illustrated, saw the change in the wind earlier on with digital transformation, "The last year has been one of dramatic change. I'm extremely proud of the team and how we have focused, executed, expanded our business, and delivered strong results. We have grown revenue and audience, driven strategic partnership in gambling, podcasting, and commerce, and partnered with more than 200 publishers. The efforts speak volumes to the dedication of our team and the success of our strategy," The success of these new media verticals may provide the same type of dynamic growth to a range of industries beyond these, given their innovative way of approaching communications.
The independent digital publishing industry has faced increasing pressure in recent years, says Business Wire. Internally, many individual publishers have found it difficult to achieve the technical sophistication and economic efficiencies that would enable them to remain a viable part of the marketplace. Externally, the rapid growth of social media has threatened to decrease viewership and led to stiffer competition for clients' advertising dollars.
Fortunately, an innovative company called Maven has assembled a robust media organization that provides digital publishers of all sizes with unparalleled technology and support. Maven's inclusive platform also enables high-level content distribution and major brand advertising through targeted interactions with consumers.
Maven unifies these wide-ranging functions on one platform, while enhancing each brand. The company is publicly traded under the MVEN ticker symbol. In addition, the company provides coalition members with an attractive financial services structure that fosters long-term sustainability.
Introducing Maven's Elegant Solution
Maven's game-changing business model addresses many brands' concerns about lack of control of their communications platforms. When distributing data and placing advertisements on third-party media (and social media) platforms, brands often found themselves harnessed by restrictive company policies.
The solution was simple: create a unified platform on which every user is equipped with the technological and economic support that enables them to thrive. Maven's founder advocated for combining these advantages with large-scale news and information distribution capabilities. Together, these attributes are designed to attract a growing base of discerning consumers.
Maven's Vision and Mission
Maven's powerful vision statement expresses the company's desire to provide a market-leading technology platform. Premium publishers currently utilize this platform to inform, educate, entertain, and impact the site's users.
To transform this vision into reality, Maven has a mission to provide publishers, journalists, and storytellers with the power to deliver value to their audiences. When brands can control their data distribution, they're better able to control their own destinies.
The Maven Business Model
The Maven business model reflects the term's meaning of an individual who is a recognized expert in a specific subject. The term "maven" equally applies to someone who's a passionate advocate for a cause. The Maven company persona aptly embodies both of these definitions.
Maven (the company) is an invitation-only coalition of more than 200 diverse properties. Members include individual thought leaders and renowned independent publishers. These respected content destinations have come together to form a common digital publishing, advertising, content distribution, and data management network.
Each Maven Coalition member benefits from the cloud-based platform's top-tier technology, increased traffic, and improved monetization programs. At the same time, members enjoy operations-based savings due to Maven's economies of scale. As a singular media brand, Maven also manages its platform's wide-ranging operations.
Coalition members' audiences also reap the benefits of this shared content generation and distribution network. Consumers can access numerous content channels on a single technology platform.
Marketers use cross-brand distribution and other tools to engage audiences without distracting external influences. Maven also offers high-impact custom advertising programs that often increase brand awareness, engagement, and intent to purchase.
Most importantly, each Maven Coalition member retains ownership of their content and assets. Members also have unlimited access to their own data. These tenets are in direct contrast to open social media platforms' operational practices.
Maven Brand Has Wide-Ranging Appeal
The dynamic Maven Coalition includes more than 200 brands that appeal to consumers with varied tastes. Maven counts Biography, History, Sports Illustrated, The Street, and Yoga Journal among its major coalition members. Other participating brands include Backpacker, Fashionista, Pacific Standard, The Intellectualist, and Yachts.
Maven has also brought hundreds of independent content creators into the fold. These dedicated professionals benefit from the company's unmatched technology and support services, enabling them to compete on a level playing field.
In addition to supporting its coalition members' businesses, Maven exclusively manages the media business activities for two iconic brands. Sports Illustrated has long been recognized for its top-tier sports news and analysis. TheStreet provides subscribers with stock analysis, market data, and relevant business news.
Maven's impressive digital publishing, distribution, and income generation platform continues to experience steady expansion. Increased digital traffic and subscription growth are recognized benefits, with more than 150 million unique visitors as of March 2020. In addition, merging four digital media platforms into one expansive space has resulted in improved economic efficiencies.
Meet Maven CEO Ross Levinsohn
In August 2020, Maven marked two important milestones in the company's evolution. First, the company recognized additional investments that allowed it to execute its key initiatives more quickly.
In addition, Maven announced that the company was making way for new leadership. The previous CEO would continue to advise the company as it pursued new business development.
Maven named Ross Levinsohn, the Sports Illustrated media CEO, its new chief executive officer. Throughout his notable career, Levinsohn has channeled his passions for media and technology into a series of C-suite digital media management roles.
Ross Levinsohn's Career Trajectory
Ross Levinsohn began his preparation for a media career at American University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications. His digital media experience began while leading CBS' Sportsline in the mid 1990's, and early advocate and pioneer in the space. This role served as a springboard for numerous prominent roles in the years to follow.
Levinsohn served as the Fox Interactive Media president, promoting increased digital engagement with the company's internet properties. As Guggenheim Digital Media's CEO, he managed several of the company's prominent digital brands.
Ross Levinsohn was also keenly aware of the ongoing seismic shift in media consumption trends. He served as CEO of Tribune Publishing's digital arm and as a senior executive with search pioneer Alta Vista.
Ross Levinsohn assumed the Sports Illustrated CEO position in October 2019, and he'll continue that role along with his Maven CEO responsibilities. Outside of the C-suite, Levinsohn has invested in or advised more than 30 early-stage and growth-phase enterprises. He also operated a thriving consulting business, helping media companies transform their content to increase viewership.
Levinsohn's Entrepreneurial Mindset at Work
Like many visionaries, Ross Levinsohn is always percolating with creative ideas. A longtime out-of-the-box thinker, he keeps a notepad handy to record his inspirations. Later, he critiques each idea to assess its viability and then invites his colleagues to challenge the concept as well. Then, Levinsohn does everything possible to bring the idea to fruition.
Ross Levinsohn's entrepreneurial mindset has enabled him to thrive in a highly competitive, rapidly changing industry. Although he is known for his fearless attitude and drive, he doesn't think that those attributes make him more productive.
Instead, Ross Levinsohn often discusses the value of listening. Whether in the boardroom, in a sales call, or in a personal conversation, he says that taking time to absorb the speaker's words is important. At the same time, that pause allows him to formulate his words for a more thoughtful, impactful response.
Maven: A Technological Evolution
Maven's digital publishing, advertising, and distribution capabilities result from the targeted application of complementary technologies. The company's substantial infrastructure investments have enabled its coalition partners to reap the benefits of this best-in-class support.
Maven Coalition Inc. is a relatively young company, as the business was established in 2016. The Seattle-based public company was designed to be the sixth generation of single platform coalition business concept.
Maven's seasoned founding team was instrumental in the success of well-known digital media platforms. In addition, several high-level Maven officers previously performed engineering and senior executive functions at digital industry leaders such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, News Corp, and Yahoo.
Coalition Partners' Integrated Services
In addition to equity, every Maven Coalition partner enjoys an integrated digital services suite that's driven by superb technical expertise. Components include hosting, publishing tools, search, and video capabilities.
Three Types of Publishing Platforms
Maven currently features three types of digital publishing platforms. Maven Community is the company's original community-focused platform that's used by the SeahawkMaven and many financial sites.
Larger brands, such as Maxim and History.com (and soon Sports Illustrated and TheStreet), utilize the Tempest enterprise publishing platform. This powerful web authoring tool (and other tools) developed by Say Media are currently in use on the Tempest and Maven Community sites.
HubPages is a different type of online community in which writers contribute articles about their passions. After HubPages reviews the articles for compliance with multiple criteria (including SEO effectiveness), approved articles appear on one of 26 specialty sites.
Additional Features and Tools
A well-planned social/community infrastructure and high-level content management system (CMS) features benefit coalition businesses of all sizes and types. In addition, marketing automation and data management capabilities enable even smaller companies to operate more efficiently.
These combined software-as-a-service (SAAS) offerings help facilitate coalition member revenue generation and audience growth. In addition, coalition members enjoy immediate savings because Maven takes full advantage of economies of scale.
Establishment of iOS and Android native mobile apps, along with complementary membership and subscription services, enable easy communication and a satisfying member experience.
Coalition Partners Enjoy Multiple Benefits
Maven's unified digital platform provides distinct benefits to all of its participant groups. Publishers can utilize an equitable business model backed by a world-class technological and support framework.
Coalition partners also benefit from Maven's extensive familiarity with large-scale digital media platforms. And Maven's coalition partners don't pay any non-content operating expenses that could negatively impact their profits.
In addition, advertising agencies have increased control over their operational parameters. With the elimination of distracting external influences, agencies often realize increasingly successful marketing programs.
Consumers enjoy single log-in access and a quality viewing experience. Finally, investors will appreciate Maven's financially sound and profitable business model. This innovative framework enables scaling of revenues without incurring material cost increases.
Maven Growth Strategy Includes Acquisitions
Since its 2016 launch, Maven has continued its steady growth through a series of targeted acquisitions. In January 2018, Maven acquired HubPages, a community of authors who convey their personal passions across 26 themed websites.
In August 2018, Maven brought SAY Media into the mix. This digital publishing company operates the acclaimed Tempest publishing platform and offers media services. SAY Media's independent content providers focus on popular consumer interest areas that include living, style, technology, and food.
Maven's June 2019 acquisition of TheStreet played a key role in the acquiring company's growth strategy. TheStreet's Jim Cramer and his colleagues deliver timely financial insights on the stock market and the factors that influence it.
More recently, Maven acquired LiftIgniter in March 2020. This standalone platform uses machine learning to personalize the entire customer experience. This targeted approach results in more conversions while still respecting the end user's privacy preferences.
Ross Levinsohn Charts Maven's Future Path
Maven's digital publishing platform and related content distribution and advertising services provide its media coalition members with unparalleled opportunities. At the same time, the company has experienced some unexpected impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On September 3, 2020, new Maven CEO Ross Levinsohn conducted an all-company call during which he recognized the company's challenges while optimistically looking toward the future. Levinsohn reaffirmed his commitment to a teamwork-focused corporate culture that remains focused on excellence. He quickly raised more than $20 million dollars to bolster the company's balance sheet, and re-imagined its partnerships and sales.
While acknowledging the pandemic's effect on Maven's growth, Ross Levinsohn stressed that the company has been proactively managing its costs to maximize its financial position. Levinsohn also noted that Maven's executive team continues to redefine the company's path, given its evolving external influences and market conditions.
These well-crafted management strategies have helped Maven transition quickly from a startup to a robust digital communications platform and increasingly sought-after consumer destination. Levinsohn concluded his address by emphasizing that Maven's concrete goals and solid foundation have favorably positioned the company for continued success.