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Newly formed Group Nine Media — the parent company of Thrillist, NowThis and other digital brands — is building up its executive ranks.
The Discovery Communications-backed company has appointed publishing veteran Richard Beckman as its chief revenue officer to lead its advertising efforts and has tapped former Discovery Digital executive Suzanne Kolb to oversee marketing and content creation as its chief brand officer.
Beckman, who most recently served as CRO at Vice Media, has spent more than three decades in the publishing business, serving as president of Conde Nast Media Group for five years before becoming president and chief executive of Fairchild Fashion Group. He also was previously CEO of Prometheus Global Media, the former parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.
Now he’s taking on Group Nine, which was formed in December as a roll-up of Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and and Discovery Digital Networks’ Seeker, and will look to leverage the company’s 4 billion monthly video views. “Group Nine has the rare combination of enormous scale, influential brands and powerful engagement metrics, coupled with a truly entrepreneurial spirit,” said Beckman. “I am delighted to be joining such an exceptional organization. The collective scale puts us in the ‘big leagues’ of digital-first media and gives us permission to sit in any room and at any table. I look forward to bringing Group Nine’s brands to the most important partners in the media world.”
Thrillist CRO Todd Anderman will add the title COO of advertising at Group Nine and will work with Beckman, who starts this week based out of New York, to organize its advertising product across brands.
Kolb, who most recently served as executive vp and general manager of Discovery Digital Networks, joined Group Nine at the time of the merger. While at Discovery she oversaw the formation of SourceFed Studios, also a part of the roll-up, and the launch of Seeker. She previously served as president of E! Entertainment.
At Group Nine, Los Angeles-based Kolb’s duties include leading the creation of Group Nine Studios, which will focus on the development and production of programming across digital, linear, social and virtual reality.
“I love nothing more than growing culturally impactful, category-defining brands and programs, and that’s exactly what Group Nine is doing,” said Kolb. “The distinct combination of strong creative vision, clear category ownership and deep audience insights that exists at each of the brands is truly impressive. I’m excited to work with the teams to propel the brands forward as we expand their impact.”
The creation of Group Nine sees the combination of several ventures all connected through BuzzFeed chairman and Viacom board member Kenneth Lerer. His Lerer Hippeau Ventures incubated NowThis; son Ben Lerer co-founded Thrillist and daughter Izzie Lerer runs The Dodo. At the time of their merger, Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer said the goal was to create a media company with scale that could leverages its resources to create both digital and linear programming for its different content verticals.
“Richard has a wealth of experience helping the world’s best brands to successfully partner with media properties and through the years, he’s developed an unbelievable collection of experience and trusted relationships in the industry,” said Ben Lerer. “We have meaningful momentum right now at Group Nine and Richard is the type of leader that can help build upon our strong foundation to accelerated growth rapidly and tactfully.”
He added of Kolb: “We have extremely ambitious plans for Group Nine and Suzanne is a true visionary, with decades of experience in bringing big ideas to life in entertainment and media. In partnership with Suzanne, I’m confident our brands will quickly find their footing with new content formats and distribution channels.”
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