The saga of Sports Illustrated’s downward spiral as a brand continued on Thursday.
Hours after an all-hands meeting where layoffs were expected was suddenly canceled, SI’s staff released a statement asking Meredith and Authentic Brands Group to “save Sports Illustrated” by dropping Jim Heckman’s TheMaven from SI’s operations.
Sports Illustrated employees are concerned about the future of the historic brand.
— Sports Illustrated United (@SIUnited54) October 3, 2019
A brief summary of how we got here: back in May, after months of rumors about a sale, Meredith sold SI to the Authentic Brands Group, and much of the chatter following the sale was that Authentic bought SI for its name and brand. A month later, ABG sold SI’s media operation to TheMaven, a startup run by Jim Heckman (best known for his work at Scout), with Ross Levinsohn (previously of the LA Times, a gig which did not end well for him) taking over as CEO.
SI editor in chief Chris Stone left the company earlier this week, and layoffs were rumored to be evident. On Thursday, a bulk of those layoffs were going to happen, but those meetings were canceled minutes before they were supposed to begin…because the sale of SI has yet to be finalized.
Now, the staff of SI is banding together, with a number of current and former staff tweeting or retweeting the statement of support for the company’s current operations. It’s clear that the staff is not happy with the way that TheMaven has approached things, and if they layoffs end up happening as planned, Authentic and TheMaven could have a much bigger hill to climb in recouping their investment in SI than they ever expected.