NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Maxim publisher Alpha Media named Joseph Mangione its latest CEO today, making him the fifth person to hold the CEO post in some capacity since Felix Dennis sold the company in August 2007.
Mr. Mangione, 60, did a brief tour as Alpha CMO for six months ending in March 2008 and is coming out of retirement to take the CEO post. He said today he has plans to expand the company's business further beyond its core in magazine publishing.
"We're going to be in the marketing business, the promotion business, the event business," he said. "We're going to expand, we believe, our TV business, and also internationally."
Those initiatives will include, for example, an effort to build a major college marketing business. "We've been doing one-off events, working with a company at spring break doing programs for our clients," Mr. Mangione said. "In my vision I want to have a huge Maxim spring break."
"There will new businesses we will start or buy or build," he added.
Maxim magazine itself still has growth ahead of it, particularly now that the recession is easing or ending, Mr. Mangione said. "It's a growth business but we all know that the media business has changed tremendously. We're responding to the marketplace, both from consumers and our customers."
Chain of chief executives
Longtime Wenner Media No. 2 Kent Brownridge became the first CEO when he and his equity backers at Quadrangle Capital Partners bought the company in August 2007 for an estimated $240 million.
Mr. Brownridge immediately closed Stuff magazine to focus on building Blender and Maxim, but the assumptions underlying the acquisition's financing quickly smacked into the recession. The new owners struggled to make debt payments until lenders including Cerberus Capital Partners officially assumed ownership in July 2009.
Amid all the challenges, Glenn Rosenbloom and Stephen Duggan were named co-CEOs in August 2008. When Alpha closed Blender magazine, the music title for which it had held such hope, in March 2009, Mr. Rosenbloom also left, making Mr. Duggan the sole CEO. He in turn left the company six months later. His duties were assumed last October by interim CEO Paul Miller, who does not have a publishing background but was formerly chairman at Freedom Group, a firearms conglomerate owned by Cerberus.
A media entrepreneur tried to horn into the business last November, telling the New York Post that he'd been asking Cerberus to sell him Alpha and Maxim. "Either you sell it to me, or by March it will be gone," the entrepreneur said he told Cerberus. Maxim group publisher Ben Madden flatly denied that assertion, saying Maxim was profitable and that the agitator would receive no meetings.
Now that it's April, the "by March it will be gone" prediction has been proved flatly wrong.
Ad pages improving
Maxim's ad pages sank 23.2% last year from their 2008 level, a tough decline but actually a slightly better performance than magazines as whole, whose ad pages fell an average of 25.6%, according to the Publishers Information Business. Ad pages from January through April are up 3%, compared with the first four months of last year, Mr. Mangione said.
Its paid and verified circulation averaged 2.5 million copies over the second half of last year, essentially unchanged from the equivalent period a year earlier, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Maxim introduced an iPhone and iPod Touch edition in February. Maxim's sixth branded special with E!, "Maxim's Hot 100," is shooting now.
Mr. Mangione has previously worked with media brands including Better Homes & Gardens, Billboard Publications and Turner Broadcasting. Previous posts include president for sales and marketing at Canwest Global Communications, the Canadian media conglomerate, and senior VP for integrated sales at Time Warner.