Shakeup at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia


Former ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne has stepped down as President and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company has promoted Wenda Harris Millard and Robin Marino to Co-CEO positions, with founder Martha Stewart declaring that the company is “strong and vibrant.”

Lyne’s selection as CEO had been a surprise back in 2004 (11/12/04 TVBR #222), when the company was reeling from founder Stewart’s prison sentence stemming from an investigation into trading in the stock of an unrelated company. Now, her exit also came as a surprise.

"Four years ago when the Board asked me to take on this role, our principal goal was to rebuild the company and return it to profitability. We have done that. In the process we’ve launched some great new businesses, built an impressive management team and re-affirmed the enduring power of the Martha Stewart brand. While there is never a perfect time to depart, the company is on sound footing and we expect the transition to be very smooth,” said Lyne. While she spoke of profitability, the company has lately seen a sharp drop in its stock price – and it dropped again yesterday after the management change was announced.

Millard, who had been President of Media, and Marino, who had been President of Merchandising, will both report to Charles Koppelman, Chairman of the Board. Millard oversees MSLO’s Media businesses, which include Online, Publishing, and Broadcasting, while Marino oversees MSLO’s Merchandising businesses, which include licensing partnerships with retailers including Macy’s, Kmart, and 1-800-Flowers, as well as with manufacturers such as EK Success and Bernhardt.

"Our company is strong and vibrant, and Susan’s contributions have been key. Wenda and Robin are passionate, consumer-oriented leaders with equally passionate teams — all committed to providing our customers with fine quality, beautifully designed products and useful, practical, trusted information that enhances and improves their everyday lives," said Stewart.

RBR/TVBR observation: Co-CEO? How’s that going to work? How can ultimate responsibility for a company’s strategic direction be divided between two people?