BECKMAN EXITS: The door has finally revolved on Richard Beckman, the high-profile chief executive officer of the publisher that owns trade magazines The Hollywood Reporter, AdWeek and Billboard. He has been pushed out of Prometheus Global Media after two-and-a-half years as ceo, several sources said early Friday. Reached at Prometheus offices, Beckman said, “I am not in a position to comment.”
After WWD reported the news, Prometheus released an official statement later in the afternoon with a confirmation.
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“I am proud of what we accomplished here over the last two-and-a-half years. I wish them continued success in the future,” Beckman said in a prepared statement.
Beckman left as ceo of the Condé Nast subsidiary Fairchild Publications, parent of WWD, in 2009 to become ceo of Prometheus, then called e5 Global Media, a new media company that had been formed by Jimmy Finkelstein’s Pluribus Capital and Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services firm. The company paid $70 million to buy a stable of trade magazines from Nielsen Business Media.
Beckman brought the guns-blazing culture of Condé to the world of trade publications, making big-ticket hires — according to reports, former Us Weekly editor Janice Min took her seven-figure salary to run The Hollywood Reporter, which she turned into a glossy weekly. Beckman also installed columnist Michael Wolff as editorial director of AdWeek.
Beckman has been dogged by rumors about his future at Prometheus for more than a year. In March 2011, he had to fight back speculation that the partners were seeking to sell the company. Last July, a new round of rumors began circulating about his role. While he remained ceo, Finkelstein assumed some of his responsibilities on the publishing side while Beckman focused on launching a new entertainment division. At the time, Finkelstein and Beckman denied the suggestion that his position had been diminished, even as he was seen in the office only sporadically after that.
Reports of tension between Finkelstein and Beckman surfaced again last fall in the New York Post when Finkelstein pushed Wolff out at AdWeek. The move suggested Beckman himself was under pressure, and sources say Finkelstein and Guggenheim Partners have been orchestrating an exit since then.
The discord between Beckman and his partners stems from two management cultures colliding. Beckman never blended in with the bottom-line-driven culture of private equity, sources said. Meanwhile, the partners had very high expectations for Condé’s former Mad Dog.
“It’s just a different way of doing business. They expect a shorter turnaround,” a source said. “If you’re going to spend x dollars, how many dollars do you expect back?”
Sources say Beckman had been recently making calls to friends, letting them know he’s no longer at Prometheus and that he’s looking for new opportunities.
In the statement, Finkelstein praised Beckman. “Richard was an important part of our brands’ success in these past years, and we wish him all the best in the future,” he said. The statement described the exit as a “mutual consent.” It is not clear when Beckman’s last day at Prometheus’ downtown offices will be, or if Finkelstein will assume his responsibilities as ceo.
Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly could not be reached for comment. Finkelstein could not be reached at Prometheus’ offices. The news comes as Prometheus rival Penske Media Group is getting ready to rejigger its Web site Movieline under the direction of former Gatecrasher editor Frank DiGiacomo, whose hire was first reported in WWD.