Effective immediately, Paul Slavin has been promoted to CEO of Open Road Integrated Media. The appointment means that company cofounder and CEO, Jane Friedman, will become chairman and executive publisher.
Slavin joined Open Road last fall after serving in executive posts at the Walt Disney Company and ABC News. In announcing his promotion, Open Road observed that Slavin “has helped to realign companies, increase profitability and sustain growth.”
Open Road, which was founded in 2009, has amassed an e-book catalogue of over 10,000 titles, but has yet to turn a profit. According to the Wall Street Journal, Open Road has received about $30 million in venture capital. That funding helped the company acquire a number of e-book publishers over the years, including E-reads and the e-book line of Premier Digital Publishing, both acquired in 2014.
In an interview with PW this spring, Friedman said first quarter e-book sales were “fine.” In that same interview Slavin pointed to Open Road’s growing use of social media, and its online promotions, as things that have boosted e-book sales. Specific efforts included Early Bird Books, a daily newsletter with discounted e-book offers (with 375,000 subscribers), and the Lineup, a true-crime community site (with books from all publishers) that attracts 2.5 million page views and 1.3 million unique visitors per month. Friedman said Open Road plans to add two more online communities, one in late 2016 and another in early 2017.
Finding ways to profitably grow Open Road’s revenue will be the top priority for Slavin, who Open Road said “will lead the company's next phase beyond content--spearheading Open Road's expanding focus on engaging and connecting with consumers while creating multiple new revenue streams through media and e-commerce.”
“I know that Open Road’s authors, partners, and staff will work incredibly well with Paul," Friedman said in a statement. "His experience in developing successful digital media companies, his business acumen, and his deep appreciation for media position him well to capitalize on the incredible growth that we’ve seen. And he’s someone who understands the value of our books and authors."