Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

UGO, Hearst’s Dudes/Gaming Site, Needs a New CEO

jmoses_bigUGO, the dude-centric videogame site that Hearst bought for $100 million two years ago, needs a new CEO.

J Moses, who co-founded the company in 1998, left in June, as did Michael McCracken, his longtime COO. The company is currently being run by Hearst Interactive president Ken Bronfin.

I’ve heard conflicting reports about the impetus behind Moses’s departure. It’s certainly not unusual for top executives to leave a company within a couple of years of an acquisition.

But UGO, which competes for eyeballs and ad dollars with heavyweights like CBS’s (CBS) GameSpot and News Corp.’s (NWS) IGN, seems to have had trouble moving the needle since magazine giant Hearst picked it up: Web measurement service comScore (SCOR) says UGO’s traffic has bounced around in the 10 million to 12 million unique visitors per month range–even after it acquired rival site 1up.com from Ziff Davis Gaming Group last January (click chart to enlarge). comscoreugo
I’ve reached out to Moses, but haven’t heard back. Here’s Hearst’s description of what happened:

Moses told UGO employees at a meeting at UGO on June 16 that after two years, he was leaving the company, having fulfilled his duties there.  At the meeting, we thanked him for his dedication to the company and announced that we would begin conducting a search for a replacement. We are committed to the future growth of UGO and believe in its future success. Ken Bronfin, president, Hearst Interactive Media, and his team are managing the company in the interim.

At the time of the Hearst deal, UGO was generating Ebitda of $6 million on revenue of $30 million, according to this Forbes story.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work