Ryan Crosby: the new CEO of WSL | Photo: WSL

Ryan Crosby is the new chief executive officer (CEO) of the World Surf League (WSL).

The professional surfing circuit chose the successor of Erik Logan, the man who led WSL from January 2020 to June 2023.

Since his sudden departure, Emily Hofer, WSL's chief people and purpose officer, and Bob Kane, chief operating officer and chief legal officer, served as interim CEOs.

Ryan Crosby has two decades of experience working as a marketing professional in technological and entertainment companies like Microsoft (2006-2010), En Masse Entertainment (2010-2012), Activision (2012-2015), Netflix (2015-2018), Hulu (2018-2021), and Riot Games (2021-2024).

"What I love about surfing is that it's an incredibly competitive sport, but it's also a way of life, a passion, and a deeply committed global community," said Crosby.

"I am excited to leverage my experience to elevate the WSL brand, deepen our connection with fans, and continue building something surfers can be proud of."

Balancing Profit and Essence

The decision to choose a CEO with a marketing background rather than sports management experience is a sign of the WSL shareholder's priorities.

In other words, Dirk Ziff, the owner of WSL, will continue to get competitive surfing to the mainstream via partnerships with global traditional and new media platforms and providers.

Monetizing pro surfing has been a long-term challenge, and it often conflicts with the hopes and wishes of WSL fans and followers.

The cost of each Championship Tour (CT) event, including logistics, human resources, and prize-money package, was at some point around $3 million, despite the goal to bring it to $1 million.

The new CEO of WSL will have to strike a sensitive balance between keeping the show appealing to the core audience and expanding its reach to a broader non-surfing public.

WSL's long-term vision is to become a media platform capable of generating revenue digitally and via agreements and deals with cable TV and multinational distribution channels.

"Ryan's exceptional track record across some of the most important media platforms, his authentic, approachable manner, and his genuine passion for surfing make him a great fit to lead the WSL into its next chapter of growth and innovation," concluded Dirk Ziff.

Crosby is a Surfrider Foundation board member.

Although born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, and educated at the University of Arizona, he developed a deep affection for the ocean.

But it wasn't until after graduation, when he relocated to Venice Beach, that he discovered his passion for surfing.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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