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Fox Interactive head who drove acquisitions resigns

November 17, 2006|Chris Gaither and Dawn C. Chmielewski | Times Staff Writers

The man who brought MySpace into the News Corp. family is leaving -- and his cousin is replacing him.

Ross Levinsohn on Thursday resigned as president of Fox Interactive Media, which he helped turn into an Internet powerhouse in only 18 months. Central to that were the acquisitions of IGN Entertainment Inc., a site for video gamers, and MySpace, the social-networking service that has since become one of the Internet's most popular destinations.

"Ross drove the MySpace and IGN acquisitions, both of which were brilliant, both of which he deserves a whole lot of credit for," said Scott Ehrlich, a digital media consultant who advises major media companies.

Peter Levinsohn, whose grandfather was a brother of Ross Levinsohn's grandfather, was named president of the interactive unit. He has worked at News Corp. for 18 years, most recently as president for digital media at Fox Entertainment Group, where he struck deals to distribute Fox movies and TV shows online.

"I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead a division that is really shaping the future of the media business," he said in a statement.

Fox declined to make executives available to comment.

Ross Levinsohn recently told associates that, at a time when so much money was backing big digital ideas, he wanted the opportunity to help build a company with the possibility of a big payday. Friends said they wouldn't be surprised to see him become a venture capitalist, or be tapped by one to run a start-up.

"His strategic vision helped us to establish a strong Internet presence in a very short time, and we are enormously grateful for his many contributions," Peter Chernin, News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "I know Ross will be successful in whatever he chooses to do next, and we hope there is an opportunity for us to participate."

Wherever Levinsohn lands, his legacy is obvious, said Mike Vorhaus, managing director of new media with Frank N. Magid Associates.

"It will always be MySpace," Vorhaus said. "How could it be anything else?"

chris.gaither@latimes.com

dawn.chmielewski@latimes.com

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