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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

SI lays off half its staff after undergoing ownership change to TheMaven

Sports Illustrated

About half of the staff at Sports Illustrated was laid off on Thursday as part of a massive purge by the company’s new ownership group, and SI staffers are not going down without a fight.

In May, Sports Illustrated was sold to Authentic Brands Group, and the group decided to sell the print and digital publishing rights for SI to TheMaven. TheMaven is a company run by controversial former LA Times CEO Ross Levinsohn and James Heckman.

Authentic Brands Group appears to have mostly taken over SI with the intent of making money off the company’s brand name, which helps explain why they licensed the publishing rights to TheMaven. TheMaven’s business plan was to dump most of the SI staff and replace them with “freelancers and bloggers,” according to a statement from former SI staffers.

Here is the note posted by a new Twitter account that was launched on Thursday in protest of the massive SI firings. Those working for SI believe TheMaven will diminish the quality of the SI brand name.

TheMaven had set up two different meetings but rescheduled them and finally met with employees to notify them of their layoffs. NPR media reporter David Folkenflik says half the staff was laid off.

A number of SI staffers with whom you may be familiar tweeted on Thursday to say they had been laid off.

A social media movement was launched in response to the firings. A “#SaveSI” hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter, launched by those who are concerned with the direction the new owners are taking the highly-respected company.

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