After BuzzFeed Sale, Complex Names Aria Hughes Editor in Chief and Noah Callahan-Bever Returns as Chief Content Officer

Complex, the youth-culture and music media brand that BuzzFeed sold to ecommerce company Ntwrk, has named new editorial leadership

Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 18:31:40 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 18:31:40

Complex, the youth-culture and music media brand that BuzzFeed sold to ecommerce company Ntwrk, has named new editorial leadership.

Complex promoted Aria Hughes, formerly editorial creative director, to the role of editor in chief. She’s the first EIC for Complex since former editor in chief Maurice Peebles exited in March 2022 to join ESPN. Hughes will oversee newsroom and content strategy alongside Noah Callahan-Bever, formerly an EVP at Def Jam Records and Complex’s one-time EIC and chief content officer, who has rejoined the company after a six-year hiatus.

In addition, Complex has acquired Callahan-Bever’s Idea Generation media company, which he founded in January 2020. Idea Generation “seeks to understand and explain how the greatest creators, innovators and entrepreneurs come up with, develop and operationalize the ideas that move and impact society,” according to Complex.

BuzzFeed — which has been struggling with declining revenue and profitability — in February 2024 closed the sale of Complex to Ntwrkin a $108.6 million all-cash deal. BuzzFeed had acquired Complex Networks in December 2021 in a deal worth about $294 million. However, that included Complex’s First We Feast brand, producer of the popular “Hot Ones” series, which was not sold to Ntwrk and remains with BuzzFeed.

L.A.-based Ntwrk said that with Complex, it intends to build a “next-generation content and shopping experience” that it described as a “new destination for ‘superfan’ culture that will define the future of commerce, digital media and music.” Investors in the newly merged company includeUniversal Music Group, Jimmy Iovine, Main Street Advisors and Goldman Sachs.

Hughes joined Complex in 2019 as deputy style editor, covering the cross section of culture, fashion and streetwear and overseeing the style vertical. In 2022 she was promoted to editorial creative director, overseeing organic editorial content, cover campaigns and larger editorial -

initiatives, including Complex Volume, a quarterly digital ‘zine. Hughes studied journalism and English at the University of Maryland at College Park and moved to New York City shortly after graduating. She started covering the business of fashion and retail as an associate editor at WGSN, a London-based trend forecasting service, and later as men’s editor at fashion trade publication WWD.

Callahan-Bever previously served as Complex’s deputy editor, editor in chief and then chief content officer from 2005 to 2017. During his initial tenure, he played a pivotal role in growing the brand from a bimonthly print magazine to a network of online and video properties that include Sneaker Shopping, Hot Ones and Everyday Struggle, according to Complex.

Callahan-Bever had served as executive vice president at Def Jam Records for two years, leaving the company in December 2019. He began working in magazines when he was 17, serving as senior editorial assistant at NYC’s ego trip magazine. By the time he began attending NYU, he had already spent the summer as a fact-checker at VIBE before landing the position of contracted writer-at-large for VIBE’s spin-off, BLAZE. Callahan-Bever also worked in A&R for a Sony Music distributed rap label and writing TV shows for MTV and MTV News, before returning to magazines in 2002 as editor in-chief of Mass Appeal. A year later he was named senior editor of VIBE, a position he held for two years.

Callahan-Bever lives in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood with his wife and two daughters, 6 and 9, who “find it absolutely comical when strangers on the street stop and ask if he’s, ‘The Complex Guy,'” according to the company.

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