Our email inbox is stuffed with word that Wizard COO Fred Pierce has been let go. Pierce was definitely the mover and shaker who ran Wizard’s day-to-day business and was probably much more involved than CEO Gareb Shamus for the last few years.
The move (which is seen as cost-cutting by observers) is the latest in what seems to have become a steady stream of layoffs, departures and shifts within the company structure over the past two to three years. The business is soon to move to a new building as well, something also cited as a cost-cutting measure. With Pierce’s departure, insiders report that Gareb and his brother Stephen Shamus are running the day to day operations of the business.
Pierce was not well liked by many ex-Wizard staffers, as Sean T. Collins shows by breaking into an Ewok-style celebratory “yub nub” at the news.
Everyone knows that magazine publishing isn’t exactly a huge growth industry these days, but an observer can’t help but think that things must be very dire at Wizard World for a fixture like Pierce to be let go.
Who’s left? EIC Scott Gramling, Joe Yanarella and Mike Cotton are the best-known names.
Observers we spoke with were shocked, and the prognosis for Wizard’s continued health is considered questionable. Others, however, saw the often confrontational Pierce as a major impediment to moving forward with a new direction.
Developing, as they say.
More, from Tom Spurgeon:
Update: A few more reactions from the grapevine, including a publishing exec who told us, “Fred made it pretty clear to us that buying ad pages and getting editorial coverage were very much related.”