Last year, we could never have foreseen a future with empty stadiums, closed movie theaters, and Zoom worship services. But as the innovators highlighted in this issue know, if you are expecting business as usual in the world of sports, media, and entertainment, you’re falling behind.
This has been a challenging year, but also one with hopeful stories. Truly dynamic leaders and companies have taken action to solve real problems—or simply to create great entertainment to help all of us cope. At a time when so much has changed, I am honored to feature this distinguished collection of individuals who remind us of one thing that has always held true: the value of leadership. Each of them has taken real risks when they had a safe alternative, and it has paid off many times over. That is exactly the message we all needed in 2020.
Our Visionaries of the Year, Michael Loeb and Rich Vogel of Loeb.nyc, are the rare partners who have not just thrived but excelled across multiple disciplines. From their start in the circulation department at Time Inc., the two entrepreneurs have managed to stay ahead of every trend in the media industry, building an empire by realizing credit cards were going to be the future of magazine subscriptions. From there, the two went off to form an investment company that has taken a holistic, hands-on approach, in support of dozens of entrepreneurs—with great success.
Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, is another longtime media mogul who has stayed on top. Brought in by billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong to right a wobbly ship that had suffered from a real leadership deficit in previous years, Pearlstine was instrumental in providing a steady hand and the guidance to position the iconic newspaper as L.A.’s “window on the future.”
The future is also likely to be viewed through virtual reality headsets. Joanna Popper, another Visionary, runs location-based VR for computing giant HP, and is one of the highest-ranking female executives in that burgeoning industry. The former television executive has made it her personal mission to elevate other women and underrepresented groups in VR, and is active on social media promoting jobs and helping promote VR to her audience as a viable—and lucrative—career path.
And Neil Jacobson has carved out his own niche in Hollywood—with Hallwood, a company that manages songwriters and music producers. A former Interscope and Geffen exec, Jacobson saw an opportunity and moved to capitalize on it.
In a year like no other for sports, media, and technology, these Visionaries, NextGens, and C-Suite Advisors show us the value of adaptability and thinking ahead. I hope you enjoy this special issue.
David L. Wurth
Founder and Publisher