The private-equity firm that owns G/O Media appears to have disappeared from the company one of the key executives who oversaw the deal acquiring Deadspin and other ex-Gizmodo Media websites.
Great Hill Partners vice president Eric Ahlgren was one of two executives more heavily involved in the direction of G/O Media, the collection of former Gizmodo sites that Great Hill purchased from Univision earlier this year.
But his professional profile, which was live as of last Wednesday, is now no longer listed on Great Hill’s website. And after The Daily Beast asked both Ahlgren and Great Hill for comment on Tuesday, his name was suddenly removed entirely from the firm’s web page dedicated to its investment in G/O Media.
It is unclear whether Ahlgren exited the company, or why he left. Great Hill declined to answer The Daily Beast’s question about whether he had left the company.
Ahlgren’s apparent exit comes amid ongoing turmoil at G/O Media.
Earlier this year, Deadspin’s editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell left the company, saying she would not go along with G/O’s mandate that the site stick to sports coverage. And when the company formalized that edict last week, firing an interim top editor who refused to comply, all of the site’s staffers quit in protest.
Following the resignations, the remaining G/O staff’s editorial union staged a protest in New York City, and web traffic at the sports site nosedived, sources said. And on Tuesday, G/O’s editorial director Paul Maidment, who issued the “stick to sports” mandate, abruptly resigned to pursue an unspecified “entrepreneurial opportunity.”
Even before the mass exodus, the site struggled to find a replacement for Greenwell.
The Daily Beast is aware of at least one candidate who turned down an opportunity to lead the site. One candidate, who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity, said an outside recruiting firm contacted them unsolicited shortly after Labor Day to gauge their interest in the position.
That candidate recalled how they sent an updated resumé to the recruiter upon request and then spoke on the phone with her for about a half-hour. There was “very little” discussion of G/O’s philosophy or direction for Deadspin during that call, the candidate said.
Following the conversation, the recruiter emailed a questionnaire asking—among more standard questions—the candidate to demonstrate their ability to grow a site’s audience and traffic; and to provide examples of their experience in the sports industry and their “passion for sports.”
And in a series of tweets posted last week, following the en masse resignations, former Deadspin writer Sean Newell revealed that G/O Media had also reached out to him earlier in the month for the top job.
“Thought that was pretty weird—I never even applied because there’s an army of people more qualified—but I decided to talk to them because, it’s Deadspin,” he tweeted.
“They told me they wanted the site to stick to sports, and also asked me how I’d grow the site’s audience,” Newell continued. “Expanding the general interests section seemed like the easiest and most obvious way.”
Newell’s description of G/O Media’s kissoff, meanwhile, was similar to what the other candidate told The Daily Beast of their experience.
“Couple days later they got back to me and said they wanted someone with a little more experience managing a larger newsroom,” he wrote.
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