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TACKLING THE BEAST: Baba Shetty, an ad executive with a background in digital media, on Wednesday was named chief executive officer of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company, where, in a surprising decision, he will report to editor in chief Tina Brown and the company board.
Shetty succeeds Stephen Colvin, who is leaving to be an “executive in residence” at Lerer Ventures, a venture capital firm. Colvin, a Brit who was previously the ceo of Dennis Publishing, joined the Daily Beast as ceo and president in 2009, and continued in that role when it merged with Sidney Harman’s Newsweek in 2010. He reported to the joint company board and Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp.
Colvin lead NewsBeast through a turbulent period for newsweeklies, and also internally. There were successes — ad pages are up by about 2 percent from last year, according to Media Industry Newsletter, while this August, the Daily Beast had its highest traffic in a year, topping at 6.6 million, according to comScore. But Newsweek’s newsstand circulation decreased nearly 10 percent through the first half of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, although competitor Time’s dropped 31 percent.
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There have also been notable departures — creative director Dirk Barnett was poached by the New Republic last month, and, this week, Eric Danetz, a senior vice president, left to join Alloy Media. Last November, when publisher Ray Chelstowski was fired after ten months on the job, Danetz took over some of his duties.
It’s now Shetty’s job to figure out how Newsweek-Daily Beast can generate revenue. A spokesman did not say why he would report to Brown. Neither was available for comment.
Shetty was the chief strategy officer at the Boston advertising firm Hill Holliday, where he lead brand planning and consumer research. Until 2005, he lead digital sales at Fallon Worldwide. He got a peek at a working relationship with Brown when Hill Holliday collaborated on the magazine’s “Mad Men”-themed issue. Brown said Shetty also would work to grow the company’s events business, which now includes the Women of the World forum.