Wizard World, Inc. has hired John Maatta as CEO with an initial two-year contract, the company said today in an SEC filing.
Maatta replaces John Macaluso, who resigned. Macaluso had been with the company for a little over four years (see “Exec Moves Roundup”). The filing said that Macaluso’s departure was “not the result of any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies, or practices.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the board of directors was happy with the company’s performance under Macaluso. After a profitable 2014, Wizard World lost $4.3 million in 2015, the result of a rapidly expanded con schedule, which included many unprofitable shows, a failed joint venture with Cinedigm for ConTV, and a money-losing first show in China (see “Wizard World Loses $4.3 Million in 2015”).
Maatta had been on the Wizard World board of directors since 2011, and had been non-executive Chairman since February 5 of this year, a role in which he replaced Macaluso.
Wizard World brought in Randall Malinoff as Chief Operating Officer under a 90-day contract on March 2, a sign that the board was already looking to bring in additional management support at that time. Malinoff had been VP and head of direct-to-consumer ecommerce for Universal Music Group, and also had a stint as EVP and General Manager of Ktel in the 90s. We asked a Wizard spokesperson about the move earlier this month and were told that Macaluso was still CEO and that the company was “just trying to get better.” It now appears likely that management support was being brought in to help with a transition to the new CEO.
Maatta has an impressive resume, although not in the live events business. An attorney most recently in private practice, he had been COO and later an EVP of the CW from 2006-2014, and COO of The WB.
Wizard scaled back its event schedule this year, and now plans 19 events, including a first-ever cruise.