IDW Replaces CEO

IDW Publishing logo

IDW Publishing, which puts out comics, is only part of IDW Media Holdings, an “integrated media company” that also includes IDW Games, IDW Entertainment (which makes TV shows such as Wynonna Earp), Top Shelf Productions, the San Diego Comic Art Gallery, and CTM Media Group Inc. (a digital print and advertising firm that is “one of North America’s largest distributors of tourism information”).

IDW was founded in 1999 by Ted Adams, who until just now was also CEO of the company. He’s been replaced by Kerry McCluggage, a TV executive who had been on the IDW board of directors. McCluggage is a former chairman of Paramount Television Group and president of Universal Television.

Ted Adams will be “taking a brief sabbatical and will return to IDW in a new creative role.” When I’ve seen similar messages at large companies I’ve worked for previously, “taking time off” is code for “the board wants a different direction”. It’s more polite than saying “fired”. I don’t know that this is the case here, but I’m suspicious that they aren’t talking about what that new role will be, particularly since there’s a line about the company seeking “to expand upon its business model.”

Quotes from the press release (where the two repeat each other):

“IDW has demonstrated impressive achievements in each of its core divisions. Its media unit, encompassing publishing and games as well as reimagining the entertainment production model, has achieved tremendous success and is poised for phenomenal growth. There is also a great team of passionate, talented professionals that I am eager to lead and learn from as we continue to build upon the incredible foundation created by Ted Adams and others over the past 20 years,” said McCluggage.

“I’m excited to see where Kerry takes the company I’ve been building for the last 20 years,” added Adams. “I’m looking forward to taking a brief sabbatical and returning to IDW in a new role, and have complete confidence that the company will continue to build upon its current trajectory in the very capable hands of Kerry McCluggage. I leave him with very dedicated and smart teams across all three of our divisions. I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to do together.”

Since 2002, McCluggage has been president of Craftsman Films, an independent production company whose only significant IMDb credit is a 2004 TV movie called Homeland Security. Back when he was with Paramount TV, he “helped develop and launch the original plan for UPN (known as The United Paramount Network).”

IDW lost money in 2017. “The company lost $800,000 in its full fiscal year, a big swing from net income of $3.7 million in its 2016 fiscal year.” The most recent figures show sales continuing to decline, although the loss wasn’t as bad as the year before.

Publishing revenues were down over a million dollars, the company said in its filing, which it attributed to “timing of significant major brand titles,” and as it has for a number of quarters, to “industry cyclical downward pressures driven by market leaders.”

The holding company “posted a $2.2 million loss” for the second fiscal quarter this year. So perhaps we’re seeing the beginning of a pivot away from publishing (and the CTM division, which didn’t do well) into more TV. The new CEO’s background certainly argues for it.


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