Digital media startup Puck launches sports vertical, poaching veteran journalist John Ourand

Digital media startup Puck launches sports vertical, poaching veteran journalist John Ourand
  • PublishedDecember 19, 2023

Puck is stepping into the sports arena.

The buzzy digital subscription publication that offers readers an inside look into the media, technology, and politics sectors — and the ego-obsessed titans who lead them — told CNN on Monday it had hired veteran journalist John Ourand to lead a new sports vertical, marking the outlet’s first foray into the sprawling and lucrative business powering leagues and athletes.

Ourand joins Puck after spending 18 years at Sports Business Journal where he has been widely viewed as one of the industry’s preeminent reporters covering the intersection of sports and business.

Abraham D. Madkour, the publisher and executive editor of SBJ, said in a note to staff Monday that he was “personally devastated” to announce Ourand’s departure, but that his “personal disappointment” was overshadowed by his “happiness that John is so excited for his next opportunity at Puck.”

Ourand said in a statement that it “took a great opportunity” to get him to depart SBJ, adding, “I’m already a big fan of Puck reporters like Matt Belloni, Bill Cohan and others, and I can’t wait to work with them.”

Puck, which is primarily powered by a twin engine of subscriptions and advertising revenue streams, sees a considerable business opportunity in expanding to sports.

“The business of sports is a half trillion dollar enterprise — from the leagues and the agencies to the media deals and marketing apparatus,” Jon Kelly, the co-founder and founding editor of Puck, told CNN in a statement.

“John Ourand is at the nucleus of it all, and his reporting and analysis are essential tools to make sense of the industrial changes, deal flow, and characters who dominate the space,” Kelly added. “I’ve been an admirer of his for eons, and now I’m thrilled to call him my partner.”

Through a mix of scoops and a steady burn of buzzy stories, Puck has drawn the attention of prominent industry players who often read the outlet’s reporting with great intrigue. Despite having fewer than 50 employees, Puck has seen much success with its journalism, often breaking consequential stories ahead of legacy newsrooms.

When the publication launched in 2021, Kelly imagined the startup as a place that married the freedom of Substack with the resources of an established news outlet.

Puck’s journalists, many of whom boast sizable personal brands themselves, are partners in the business and receive a cut of its revenue from subscriptions and other business ventures, such as live events. Puck has not disclosed its subscriber numbers, but over the summer it raised $13 million in a Series B growth round that valued the company at more than $70 million, a person familiar with the matter said.


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