Blank takes over the role from Colin Digiaro, who will step aside to become executive chairman of Woven focusing on M&A and fundraising efforts. Digiaro had joined Woven as president in early 2014 and was upped to CEO last August when former chief executive and co-founder Scott Grimes assumed the role of executive chairman. Grimes will remain in that role, overseeing revenue, and remains chairman of Woven’s board.
As CEO, Blank will be responsible for overall company strategy and growth through its flagship Uproxx, HitFix, BroBible and Dime brands. Woven acquired fan-focused entertainment and recap site HitFix earlier this year, after buying Uproxx, which covers news, sports and culture, in 2014.
“Elevating Ben to CEO and consolidating the creative vision is a natural progression for the company, and a move I feel will help streamline our content production,” Digiaro said in an emailed statement.
Blank oversaw the development of Woven Studios, a 6,500-square-foot facility at the company’s Culver City, Calif., headquarters that opened earlier this year. Woven is now in talks with several TV networks on deals to license existing shows and produce new series, according to Blank. He also plans to aggregate Woven’s properties in a more cohesive way later this year, and cross-pollinate content across its properties (like funneling HitFix stories through Uproxx) to expand its reach.
“Really, the idea of making sure we’re a creatively led company is the impetus for this,” Blank said. “We’re leaning into video, to be a creative company as opposed to a rep-led company” that sells advertising across a portfolio of digital properties.
Blank was previously an investor in Woven before he joined the company in January 2014 as head of creative. Previously, Blank was co-founder and director of production company Locksmith Content, where directed TV commercials, web films and branded content for clients including American Express, Nike and Groupon. Before Locksmith, he was a producer at Anonymous Content, where he worked with directors including Mark Romanek and Antoine Fuqua. He worked on numerous commercials and short films, including BMW film series with directors including Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie and Alejandro González Iñárritu. He began his career at Propaganda Films, after studying anthropology at the U. of Oregon.
This summer, Digiaro spearheaded Woven’s $18.5 million in Series B funding led by WPP Ventures, the investment arm of ad giant WPP, bringing the company to $42 million raised to date. The latest round included participation from existing investors IVP and Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital. Other investors include UTA; the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers; senior partners from entertainment law firm Ziffren Brittenhanm; Jam City and MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe; Buddy Media co-founder Mike Lazerow; and former NBA players Baron Davis and Jermaine O’Neal.
Woven, which has around 120 employees, claims it reached more than 60 million unique users monthly and about half of millennial males. The company recently won a Gold Clio Award for the debut episode of “Uncharted,” a branded-content series for Honda Motor Co.