- Last Updated: 6:38 AM, July 3, 2012
- Posted: 12:32 AM, July 3, 2012
Prometheus Global Media named former Walmart executive Dorothy “Dottie” Mattison as CEO, replacing Richard Beckman in another management shuffle at the troubled trade publisher.
Mattison is a senior managing director at Guggenheim Partners, which bought the parent of Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, along with Jimmy Finkelstein’s Pluribus Capital Management, for $70 million in 2009. The group recruited former Condé Nast executive Beckman in early 2010.
Beckman had been stripped of most of his CEO duties a year ago, when he revealed that he was going to pursue branded media opportunities while turning over day-to-day operations to Chairman Finkelstein. But Beckman hung onto the CEO title and didn’t formally exit until last Friday, creating mass confusion among the rank-and-file.
“It was beyond dysfunctional,” said one source who was there at the time. “Nobody was in charge.”
In the last few months, Mattison, who joined Guggenheim in 2010 after a stint as general manager of Walmart’s apparel group, has been acting more and more like the CEO, sources said.
When Beckman landed at Prometheus, he embarked on a risky strategy to make the titles appeal to casual readers as well as core business customers. He recruited ex-Us Weekly Editor Janice Min to run The Hollywood Reporter.
The most spectacular flop came from a radical repositioning of Adweek under controversial media writer Michael Wolff. That ended when Wolff and Finkelstein clashed over the direction of the trade as ad pages plummeted. Wolff was given the heave-ho in October and replaced by Jim Cooper.
Beckman, meanwhile, had lavishly redesigned his offices, insisting on a car and driver and first-class airfare, at a time when the trade was struggling.
He did successfully resurrect the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas with an ABC TV special but attempts to export it overseas faltered, despite some expensive globe-trotting by Beckman and Guggenheim President Todd Boehly.
Guggenheim saw the company as a way to gain access to glitz and glamour of Hollywood. But when Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter, Boehly and others at the firm turned their attention to the $2.15 billion deal with Magic Johnson to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in April, their interest in publishing cooled.
Boehly dispatched Mattison to be his “eyes and ears at Prometheus,” said one insider. Mattison, known to be a straight shooter, is the virtual opposite of Beckman, a fast-talking salesman who earned the nickname “Mad Dog” from his hard-charging days at Condé Nast.
Nevertheless, insiders said that given her retail background at Walmart and earlier at Gap, Mattison has little insight into the media business. “The staff will be heading for the hills,” predicted one insider.
But another said that with a clear chain of command for the first time in over a year, some order may be restored to the company, which is believed to have revenues in the $100 million range. “Our revenues are way up and our bottom line is way up,” said Finkelstein.
Boehly and Mattison didn’t return calls. Beckman declined to comment.