Christie Hefner, Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, announced Monday, December 8, that she would be stepping down from the position she has held for 20 years. Hefner took over operations of the company from her father, Hugh Hefner. Christie Hefner said that she will stay on as CEO until a replacement is found.
In her statement, Christie Hefner did not go into specifics as to the reasons for her departure. She stated, according to Marketwatch, that “just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well.”
Jerome Kern has been named interim non-executive chairman of Playboy Enterprises. Kern said that, under the guidance of Christie Hefner, the company had expanding their licensing from “insignificance” to that of being its most profitable division. Hefner saw the company’s entry into television and directed its online and mobile expansions. Kern said Hefner took the company from a “domestic magazine publisher to a global lifestyle and multi-media company.”
Today, Playboy Enterprises publishes in 24 countries outside the United States.
But the company has been hit hard by the current recession, its stock trading at 81% of what it traded at last year, according to Learning Markets. However, Hefner told CNBC Monday morning that the company was in good shape or should would not otherwise have the option of leaving.
Christie Hefner also told CNBC that she has felt a “call to service” and will be looking to help out in Washington. Hefner told Erin Burnett and Larry Kudlow, “I believe deeply in what he wants to do for our country. I’ll be looking for ways in which I can serve to be helpful in that regard.”
Hefner’s departure signals the end of over 50 years of family control of the company her father founded in Chicago in 1953 to publish an adult-oriented men’s magazine. The company went public in 1971. Christie Hefner took over from her father in 1988.
Earlier this year, Christie Hefner orchestrated the elimination of the Playboy DVD division, streamlined the workforce through layoffs, and began concentrating more resources on Playboy‘s internet services. An indication of how far the company had fallen came when The Age reported that Hugh Hefner sold tickets for the first time to his parties this year to offset cash-flow problems.
But will there be a place for Christie Hefner in Washington? Portfolio.com’s Jeff Bercovici asked, “Will Christie Hefner be America’s first Secretary of Centerfolds?” Although President-Elect Obama is considered liberal, it is doubtful his administration would be that liberal. And just imagining some government officials taking their official pictures in their altogether not only borders on the egregiously politically incorrect but is enough for even the most patriotic American, liberal or conservative, to renounce their citizenship.