BetMGM brings in ESPN’s Ryan Spoon as new COO, plus more

All the week's Movers & Shakers in one place.

30 October 2020 Ed Dixon

Sports betting platform BetMGM has hired Ryan Spoon as chief operating officer.

Spoon arrives from ESPN, where he was senior vice president of social and digital content. He initially joined the Disney-owned US broadcasting giant in July 2012 as senior vice president of digital product and design. During his time at ESPN, he helped build, operate and grow the network’s website, app and fantasy sports offering.

Starting in November, Spoon will be based at the BetMGM’s headquarters in New Jersey and will report to the company’s chief executive Adam Greenblatt.

Spoon joins BetMGM as the firm eyes further expansion into US states as a licensed sports betting operator. It’s app is currently available in Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia and Tennessee.

BetMGM, which is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and sports betting and gaming group GVC Holdings, currently holds league partnerships with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), golf’s PGA Tour and stock car racing organisation Nascar.

The company’s team partners include the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders and Las Vegas Golden Knights. The company also counts Yahoo Sports and restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings as strategic partners.

“The opportunity at BetMGM during these early phases was an immediate draw for me,” said Spoon. “With the incredible assets of MGM Resorts, GVC's industry-leading technology, and the many league, team and platform partners, BetMGM is uniquely positioned in the market and I am excited to help drive future growth.”

Greenblatt added: “BetMGM has seen early success in establishing itself as a significant player in the sports betting world through relationships with leagues, teams and partners. With Ryan's expertise in developing scaled and engaging digital experiences, BetMGM will leverage those relationships in entirely new ways.”

Elsewhere, the Minnesota Vikings’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix is leaving the National Football League (NFL) franchise. As a result, the Vikings have promoted John Penhollow to executive vice president and chief revenue officer. A search for a new chief marketing officer is now underway. Dannon Hulskotter, who is the team’s vice president of marketing and fan engagement, will also depart the franchise.

In addition, the Vikings have promoted vice president of finance and controller Kate Shibilski to the role of executive vice president and chief financial officer. The position was previously held by Steve Poppen, who has been named chief business administration officer, and will remain an executive vice president. Lara Juras, the team’s vice president of people and culture, has also been appointed executive vice president and chief people and culture officer, while vice president of legal and social impact Karin Nelsen is now executive vice president and chief legal officer.

Meanwhile, agency giant IMG has announced a number of promotions within its media and events group, headlined by the appointments of Adam Kelly and Sam Zussman as co-presidents of media and events. Chris Guinness and Hillary Mandel have also both been elevated to executive vice presidents, and Tom Broom and Dale Levin are now senior vice presidents.

TitletownTech, the company formed by Microsoft and the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, has announced its council of chief advisors, who will support and guide early-stage investment in businesses and provide key insights. They are Asheesh Bedi, who joins as chief medical advisor; Shaleen Devgun, chief supply chain advisor; George Foster, chief sports and entrepreneurship advisor; Christopher Howald, chief manufacturing advisor; Eric Matzke, chief legal advisor; Sterling Witzke, chief venture advisor; and Jason Zander, chief technology advisor.

Additional appointments

Ivo Kaderka

President, European Tennis Federation

Notes: Kaderka, who is also president of the Czech Tennis Federation, defeated Germany’s Eva-Maria Schneider in the third round of voting by 45 votes to 39.

Damon Phillips

Senior vice president of strategic initiatives, and head of diversity and inclusion, NBC Sports Group

Previously: Senior vice president and general manager, NBC Sports Washington

Carlo Nohra

Vice president and general manager, Asia Pacific, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

Previously: Vice president and general manager, MENA, WWE

Chris Synnott

Head of broadcast and media rights sales, World Rugby

Previously: Director of media rights, WRC Promoter GmbH

Luiz Procopio Carvalho

Vice president of tennis events, IMG

Previously: Tournament director, Rio Open

Jason Bunge

Chief marketing officer, Riot Games

Previously: Senior vice president of global brand management and marketing, Electronic Arts (EA)

Jerome Pickett

Senior vice president and general manager, Clear

Previously: Executive vice president and chief security officer, NBA

Dan Mason

Venture partner and strategic advisor, SeventySix Capital

Previously: President and chief executive, CBS Radio

Jeremy Wilton

Chair, World Rowing Coastal Championships and Beach Sprint Finals 2022

Previously: Chief operating officer, Wasps Rugby

Frank Saviano

Partner – corporate; entertainment, sports and media, Latham & Watkins

Previously: Partner – corporate, sports, Proskauer Rose LLP


Jennifer Cabalquinto

Chief financial officer, Golden State Warriors

Notes: Cabalquinto, who joined the Warriors in August 2013, has transitioned to the role of special advisor for the NBA franchise.