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Ross Levinsohn  is a technology and media executive best known for his roles as CEO at Yahoo and President of Fox Interactive Media. He is a leading industry figure who has long focused on the convergence of technology and media, and how the two industries work more closely together to enable one another . He served as CEO at Yahoo in 2012 and prior to that role was Executive Vice President, Americas and Head of Global Media. Levinsohn served as President of Fox Interactive where he helped create the largest digital businesses amongst the traditional media companies. He was also instrumental in the formation of what is now Hulu in 2005 during his tenure at News Corporation. He serves on several public and private media and technology boards, including Tribune Media, mobile advertising marketplace YieldMo, Vubiquity the leading provider of premium video content services, Zefr, and the National Association of Television Program Executives. He is also a trustee at his alma mater, American University.
Education and sports
Levinsohn was born in New York City, grew up Tenafly, New Jersey and graduated from Tenafly High School in 1981, where he lettered in football, soccer, golf and baseball for the varsity teams. Levinsohn graduated from American University with a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications. He joined its board of trustees in 2015.
While in college, Levinsohn's entrepreneurial nature took shape, when he and his college roommate started a promotional company named Ross Productions. Building a database of students and young executives in the Washington, DC area, the company staged events on a nightly and weekly basis. Upon graduating, Levinsohn moved to New York and joined Saatchi & Saatchi focused on advertising accounts for daytime dramas as part of the Procter and Gamble account including As The World Turns and Guiding Light. Following, Levinsohn worked in sports marketing and promotion at Lapin & Rose where he helped promote and market some of the biggest boxing events globally including the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler "Superfight". and later he joined sports marketing and management powerhouse ProServ. which represented the likes of Michael Jordan, Jimmy Connors, and hundred of other athletes and events. Levinsohn developed marketing and promotional campaigns for athletes, TV and events, and dabbled at representing athletes during this period.
Marketing and promotions
His previous experience led him to a new role in 1989 at HBO in marketing and promotions for the pay cable giant and its newly formed unit, Time Warner Sports. Levinsohn was promoted in 1993 to launch a new group that created and oversaw new production, licensing and ventures to expand and monetize the HBO brand across all platforms, which led to his first foray in digital. In 1994, he helped develop content for CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online on behalf of HBO. In 1995, he was recognized as one of the "30 under 30" media execs by GQ Magazine.
In early 1996 Levinsohn was recruited by SportsLine USA founder Mike Levy, to join the startup sports web site in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He oversaw all content and product for the company, which quickly grew to become one of the most important sites in the early days of the internet. In 1997, during the first growth phase of the industry, SportsLine raised money from Kleiner Perkins and then went public through a highly successful IPO. CBS bought a piece of the company and rebranded it CBS Sportsline.com. Levinsohn went on to expand the content and product offerings including building the largest and most successful Fantasy Sports business in the industry at the time, and official web sites for superstars Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Shaq O'Neill, Pete Sampras and the San Francisco 49ers. He and also produced a syndicated television show starring NFL coaches Marv Levy and Sam Wyche, and host Scott Kaplan entitled "Football Playbook" and syndicated radio programming on Westwood One. He is credited with helping launch the careers of personalities including Kaplan and sports "shock jock" Sid Rosenberg.
During the height of the first Internet boom, Levinsohn was recruited to help envision and launch the portal division for online search giant Alta Vista in 1999. At the time, Alta Vista was the leading search engine in the world. Within six months Alta Vista Live was launched and quickly grew to one of the most popular content and services sites in the world. Alta Vista was days away from going public in March 2000, when the first crash of the internet occurred. Following the crash, Alta Vista was sold to Inktomi, which later was acquired by Yahoo.
In 2000, Levinsohn joined the internet division of News Corporation, News Digital Media. From 2001 to 2005, he was Senior Vice President and General Manager at Fox Sports Interactive Media where he led the interactive sports business for Fox, including the FoxSports.com site, which grew from a few hundred thousand users to more than 35 million monthly users and competed as the most popular sports site in the United States. In late 2004, he was tasked with developing a broader digital strategy for the global media powerhouse, and was named President of Fox Interactive Media. A direct report to Rupert Murdoch and Peter Chernin, Levinsohn assumed day-to-day operating responsibility for the main Fox web properties including Fox Sports.com, Fox.com, and Fox News.com and spearheaded an investment and acquisition strategy that led to the acquisitions of MySpace, IGN, Askmen.com, Scout.com, Newroo and KSolo. In less than a year, Fox's internet properties went from an also ran to the top of the industry, and were generating more page views than any other sites in the United States, in large part due to the growth of MySpace. Fox acquired MySpace in 2005 long before the social networking boom. MySpace, at the time, was adding roughly 70,000 new users a day. A year later the site was adding more than 15 million new users a month and revenue had grown to over $200 million a year. Capitalizing on this success, in 2006, Fox Interactive signed a search and advertising deal in which Google paid Fox for exclusive rights to certain search and some display inventory for nearly $1 billion. Fox Interactive Media's properties grew to a become one of the most 5 most visited businesses on the web during Levinsohn's tenure and maintained its growth for more than a year after his departure.
Having acquired and invested in dozens of companies, and finding a passion for fostering entrepreneurs, in December 2007, Levinsohn and former AOL Chairman Jonathan Miller launched Velocity Interactive Group, a media and communications investment fund along with India's Keyur Patel and merged with Silicon Valley venture firm ComVentures. Re-branded as Fuse Capital, the partners invested in early stage startup in the US, India and China. In India, it led investments in leading media outlets NDTV and India TV, and Fuse+Media, which financed motion pictures, while domestically the company invested in the likes of Generate (sold to Alloy), Broadband Enterprises (sold to Specific Media), Next New Networks (sold to Google) and 5:1 (sold to Yahoo).
In October 2010, Levinsohn was recruited by Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz to lead the company's largest division, Yahoo Americas, where he assumed responsibility for its massive media and advertising businesses. After leadership changes at the top of the company, new CEO Scott Thompson named Levinsohn Head of Global Media for a brief period of time, before Thompson's exit.
He became Yahoo CEO in 2012. Later that year, the Board surprised many inside and outside the company by naming Google executive Marissa Mayer to lead Yahoo. Levinsohn had focused the company on expanding its position in the digital content and advertising industries, expanding its video presence and was widely expected to aggressively pursue deeper vertical and mobile experiences. Shortly after the Mayer appointment, Levinsohn left the company in August.
Following his exit at Yahoo, Levinsohn joined investment manager Guggenheim Securities, where he assumed a new role as CEO of Guggenheim Digital Media. In this role, he was tasked with investing and acquiring media assets, and actively pursued both Hulu and Vevo as potential acquisitions. He also oversaw a portfolio of assets already under management by Guggenheim including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Adweek and the Clio Awards.
Levinsohn remains an active consultant, advisor, board member and angel investor within the tech and media communities, and a frequent contributor on CNBC.
- "Yahoo! Inc (YHOO.O) People". Reuters.com. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Newman, Richard; Yellin, Deena; and Superville, Denisa R. "Tenafly grad takes helm at Yahoo", The Record (Bergen County), 15 May 2012. Accessed 17 May 2012. "In choosing former Tenafly resident Ross Levinsohn as its interim CEO on Monday, embattled Yahoo! Inc. picked a man who is focused, driven and confident.... Levinsohn graduated in 1981 from Tenafly High School, where he was a goalkeeper on the soccer team before switching to football"
- Ross B. Levinsohn. "Ross Levinsohn: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Jarboe, Greg; Reider, Suzie (17 August 2009). YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-0-470-45969-0. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
- "Yahoo! Names Fred Amoroso Chairman and Appoints Ross Levinsohn Interim CEO (NASDAQ:YHOO)". Investor.yahoo.net. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- "Interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn leaves company". Reuters. July 30, 2012.
|Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!