New York-based Group Nine was formed last fall with the merger of three startups backed by Lerer Hippeau Ventures — Thrillist, NowThis Media and the Dodo — and Seeker (formerly Discovery Digital Networks). Former Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer, son of venture capitalist Ken Lerer, is the chief exec of the new company, in which Discovery has invested $100 million.
Beckman, formerly chief revenue officer of Vice Media, will be based in New York and starts at Group Nine this week. Kolb, who is based in Los Angeles, previously ran Discovery’s digital business and joined Group Nine at the time of the merger.
As CRO of Group Nine, Beckman will lead all advertising and partnership revenue efforts both at a corporate level as well as across the individual brands, overseeing development of go-to-market strategies for the organization.
“Group Nine has the rare combination of enormous scale, influential brands and powerful engagement metrics, coupled with a truly entrepreneurial spirit,” Beckman said in a statement. “The collective scale puts us in the ‘big leagues’ of digital-first media and gives us permission to sit in any room and at any table. I look forward to bringing Group Nine’s brands to the most important partners in the media landscape.”
At Vice, Beckman headed advertising, sponsorship and brand relationships across all platforms, including the launch of cable channel Viceland. He left Vice last March, less than a year after he joined the company. Before that, Beckman was CEO of branded-entertainment company Three Lions Entertainment and was founding CEO of Prometheus Global Media, overseeing the Hollywood Reporter, the relaunch of Adweek and the resurrection of the Billboard Music Awards. He previously spent 24 years at Condé Nast where he held various positions including CEO of Fairchild Fashion Media, president of the Condé Nast Media Group, and publisher of Condé Nast Traveler, GQ and Vogue.
“We are fortunate to bring on such accomplished and talented executives to join our team at Group Nine,” said Ben Lerer. He said Beckman has “an unbelievable collection of experiences and trusted relationships in the industry. We have meaningful momentum right now at Group Nine and Richard is the type of leader that can help build upon our strong foundation to accelerate growth rapidly and tactfully. He also has a very nice British accent.”
With Beckman’s hire, Thrillist chief revenue officer Todd Anderman will take on the additional role of COO of advertising at Group Nine.
Kolb is responsible for growing Group Nine’s brands, expanding content creation and production, and overseeing business development strategies across the organization. That include the creation of Group Nine Studios, a new division focused on the development and production of programming formats of all lengths, across online, linear TV, social media and virtual reality.
“We have extremely ambitious plans for Group Nine and Suzanne is a true visionary, with decades of experience in bringing big ideas to life in entertainment and media,” Lerer commented.
Prior to Group Nine, Kolb was executive VP and GM of Discovery Digital Networks and before that was president of NBCUniversal’s E! Entertainment. She first joined E! in 2005 and launched such franchises as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Chelsea Lately,” and greenlit the network’s first original scripted series, “The Royals.” Earlier in her career, Kolb was head of marketing at the WB Television Network, where she helped launch series including “Dawson’s Creek,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Gilmore Girls.”
“I love nothing more than growing culturally impactful, category-defining brands and programs and that’s exactly what Group Nine is doing,” Kolb said in a statement.
All together, Group Nine claims its properties generate nearly 4 billion video views monthly and has more than 30 million YouTube subscribers. The brands are Thrillist (food, drink and travel), NowThis (news and entertainment), the Dodo (animals and activism) and Seeker (science, tech and exploration).