Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
- Jaymee Messler, a former sports agent who helped found The Players’ Tribune with ex-Yankee Derek Jeter, is leaving the company.
- Messler, once described as the outlet’s "secret weapon," didn’t announce her next move.
- Her exit follows the laying off of eight staffers in January as the company has tried to diversify its revenue sources.
Jaymee Messler is leaving The Players’ Tribune, the digital publication she cofounded with former New York Yankee Derek Jeter in 2014.
The Players’ Tribune features first-person articles about athletes and has been seen as a way for players to get their message out to fans directly without being filtered by the mainstream media. It’s raised $58 million in three rounds, most recently raising $40 million in Series C funding in January 2017 led by venture capital firm IVP and with participation from others including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and New Enterprise Associates.
Messler announced her move earlier this month in a social media post, saying: “I’m looking forward to what comes next for TPT, and as I leave to focus on building something new, it’s invigorating to feel the same sense of passion and excitement that we felt when we launched TPT 4 years ago. Details to come soon on my next chapter.”
Messler was the person at The Players’ Tribune most closely associated with the players and was described as its "secret weapon." She’d spent 12 years previously as CMO of Excel Sports Management, where she helped big-name athletes like Jeter carve out a digital presence.
Since its founding, The Players’ Tribune has gone through a leadership and strategy evolution. It brought in a CEO (its first) with a traditional media background, Spotify exec Jeff Levick.
Levick’s charge was to diversify the publication’s revenue from its branded content roots to video branded content and licensing. It’s also hinted at plans to expand into merchandise and a subscription offering. Meanwhile, Messler relocated to LA, where the company’s video team is concentrated.
The Players’ Tribune has had some big traffic hits over the years, such as when Kevin Durant announced he would switch teams and Kobe Bryant announced his retirement on the site. But it’s always faced the question of whether the publication can sustain its traffic in between such spikes, and how necessary it is in a world where athletes have more direct contact with their fans than ever before on social media.
In fact, at the time of its last fundraising, the publication only had 2.6 million monthly uniques, as measured by Comscore, far behind established sports publications. But by January, its traffic had slid below 1 million, per Comscore. By comparison, other popular sports sites AT&T’s Bleacher Report got 34 million uniques that month and Vox Media’s SB Nation, 17 million.
In January, The Players’ Tribune laid off eight people. It had employed around 85 as of April 2018.
The company provided the following statement to Business Insider about Messler’s departure:
“Co-founder Jaymee Messler has stepped down as a director and President at The Players’ Tribune and is winding down her day-to-day duties with the company. Jaymee is excited to start the next chapter in her career and is looking forward to dedicating her full attention to a new venture, which she will be releasing more details on in the near future.
Jaymee believes that at this phase the company will be best served by her being active in a supportive role while she focuses her attention on building a new venture. We support Jaymee’s decision and are grateful to her for the monumental and lasting contributions she has made to The Players’ Tribune. She will remain an advisor to the company and is fully dedicated to our future success.
We wish Jaymee the best of luck in her future endeavors and look forward to the next chapter in The Players’ Tribune story.”
- ‘It gets tiring’: Cannabis retailer MedMen’s CMO talks about the challenges of marketing marijuana and why education is a key pillar of its strategy
- Oracle discovered a mobile fraud operation plaguing 10 million app downloads, and it shows how pervasive scammers still are for advertisers
- The Trade Desk says YouTube’s brand-safety snafu is its gain as brands like McDonald’s and AT&T pull ads from the video platform