Yahoo Sports has a new president, and it’s someone who’s a familiar presence in the sports space. That would be Ryan Spoon, whose sports work includes time at the beRecruited site he founded (2000-2012), ESPN (2012-2020, leaving as senior vice president, digital and social), equity fund SCN Ventures (partner, 2014-present), BetMGM (chief operating officer, 2020-2021), and sports game company Sorare (COO, then advisor, 2021-present). Here’s more on Spoon’s hire from a release:
Spoon will be responsible for leading the growth and innovation of the Internet’s #2 ranked sports property, while positioning it for a new generation of sports fans.1 He will report directly to Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone.
“Yahoo Sports has been a trusted voice and guide for hundreds of millions of fans through the years, who come to us daily for context, content and community,” said Lanzone. “We’re thrilled to welcome Ryan, a true product leader across all aspects of the digital sports experience, and whose expertise in building social sports communities and scaling engagement is perfect for leading Yahoo Sports into the future. That future truly just got more exciting with Ryan’s arrival and I cannot wait to see what we can do together.”
“I look forward to joining Yahoo at such an exciting time of growth and expansion,” said Spoon. “Yahoo Sports has been a consistent and important mainstay in the lives of millions of sports fans for over 20 years. With its first-class fantasy and product experiences, Yahoo Sports has shaped the way millions of fans engage with each other and their favorite teams. I look forward to creating new growth opportunities that take our product and content offerings to the next level.”
Spoon is entering Yahoo at an interesting time. In late 2021, private equity firm Apollo Global acquired 90 percent of Yahoo from previous owner Verizon, and the company’s been through some big changes since then. That includes company-wide layoffs of nearly 1,000 workers (20 percent of their workforce) earlier this year. That’s part of a large wave of ongoing cuts across tech and media firms, but it is a notable move for Yahoo in its own right.
On the sports side in particular, Yahoo used to heavily emphasize their digital NFL rights through Verizon (primarily, the ability to stream national games to phones and tablets). But they don’t have that these days, with the NFL taking those rights for their own NFL+ service last year. And they’ve also seen some prominent people move elsewhere over the past few years, including NFL reporter/columnist Kimberley A. Martin and college football reporter/columnist Pete Thamel, who both went to ESPN. But Yahoo has made some notable hires too, including bringing back Dan Devine from The Ringer.
There have also been discussions of Apollo looking to merge Yahoo Sports with a betting company, but that hasn’t happened yet. They do have their own BetMGM-powered Yahoo Sportsbook, which launched in 2019, and they acquired social betting platform Wagr earlier this year. So sports betting is certainly going to be part of the future focus for Yahoo in some ways. And it will be interesting to see what Spoon does there.
And it will be well worth watching what Spoon does with Yahoo overall. He has a lot of experience in some notable areas related to things at Yahoo, including his time at ESPN. There, his titles included senior vice president, digital product and design, a role he held from 2012-2016 which saw him heavily involved in the games and fantasy side. He then served as senior vice president, digital product (design and audience development), senior vice president (social content and digital video), and senior vice president (digital and social), so he has experience on the digital and social fronts. And his work with BetMGM and Sorare also has potential crossover to Yahoo. We’ll see what Spoon looks to do in this new role.
[BusinessWire; photo courtesy of Yahoo]