Famed media mogul Bob Pittman is betting Marissa Mayer let the wrong guy go when she took over Yahoo in the summer of 2012.
He’s backing Jim Heckman’s new media roll-up.
Within days of taking the Yahoo job in July 2012, Mayer met with Heckman, one of her predecessor’s top strategists.
In that meeting, Heckman laid out a radical vision for Yahoo. He wanted to cut Yahoo from 15,000+ employees to just 4,000. He wanted to sell Yahoo’s search and ad tech businesses, and focus the company on content creation and content licensing.
(We detailed Heckman’s vision at length in our biography of Marissa Mayer.)
Mayer rejected the “media company” plan and Heckman hit the streets.
He wasn’t on the curb long.
While at Yahoo, Heckman had negotiated a deal with radio station company Clear Channel. During those talks he got to know Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman.
Heckman was impressed. Pittman made his name helping to create and run MTV. Then he helped Steve Case turn AOL into the giant company that bought Time Warner.
The chemistry makes sense. Both Heckman and Pittman are fast-talking, aggressive, and in full control of a certain kind of useful charisma.
So, Heckman was pleased, when, shortly after Mayer passed on him and his plans for Yahoo last summer, he got a call from Pittman with an offer.
On the side, Pittman runs a $US1 billion private equity fund called the Pilot Group. We’re told ~50% of the capital is his. Pilot has controlling stakes in investments in companies including Thrillist and a tequila maker.
Pittman asked Heckman if he wanted to use some of the Pilot Group’s capital to try to build a media network outside of Yahoo.
Heckman said yes.
Pittman put Heckman in charge of something called NAMG — basically, a collection of websites for dudes. Pittman told Heckman: use Pilot’s money to go buy some more brands and weld together something cool.
Heckman got on it.
This weekend we learned that NAMG has acquired a sports blog network called Scout.com from Fox.
Scout.com has 300 sites. Heckman ran Scout.com until 2005, when he sold it to Fox for $US60 million.
We don’t know how much he paid to get it back. We don’t really know the size of the new company. Someone who stands to benefit from the transaction told us the companies will combine for $US100 million revenues in 2013.
NAMG will change its name to Scout.com.
(They should just drop the “dot com,” no?)
After catching wind of the deal, we asked Heckman for some more information.
He told us he “needed a break,” after getting the boot from Mayer in the summer of 2012, but that the prospect of working with someone like Pittman enticed him back to work.
“Working for someone that actually encourages bold, but calculated risks, with the aim of creating value quickly is motivating my entire team.”