Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s son Cooper, once heralded as the heir to his father’s legacy, said in a new interview that he’s “taken a massive step back” from his involvement in the company due to the fact that he does “not agree with the decisions and direction” the current leadership is making. Specifically, he takes issue with the fact that the magazine no longer features fully nude women and that they’re selling the Playboy mansion Hef senior still lives in.
Cooper is currently COO at Hop, a “new media startup” with an unclear business model; their website describes the company as “a brand for Millennials, by Millennials.” In the Business Insider interview, he says that while he’s still getting information about the company’s decisions (his family owns stock), he’s barely participating in decision-making for the brand, largely due to his disagreement with current CEO Scott Flanders. That’s a far cry from what he was doing less than a year ago, when he was representing the brand in a variety of capacities.
“What’s happening at Playboy is sad,” Hefner wrote on twitter, linking to the interview.
“I was essentially asked to no longer participate in the board meetings because I didn’t agree with his vision for the company,” Cooper says of Flanders. “I think it is fair to say in some capacity I was really pushed out. Again, I don’t want to say ‘pushed out of the company,’ because you can never entirely be pushed out of a company when you have a family ownership stake in it.”
Of the decision to remove nudity from the magazine, Cooper seemed to suggest that it’s not the nudity that was the problem but the dated aesthetic used to present women:
I didn’t agree with the decision because I felt as though millennials and Gen-Y didn’t view nudity as the issue. The issue was the way in which the nudity and girls were portrayed.
He also decried the decision to sell the mansion (over the summer, BI did an interview with him in which he gave a tour of the property), saying that they’d only considered short-term financials and not the long-term strength of the brand, which he feels passionately about saving.
“There’s nothing I want more than for the company to be successful,” Cooper said, suggesting that with this interview, he’s trying to work to do that.
Both PEI and Hefner haven’t commented on the interview; though Hefner said he supported the decision to remove out-and-out nudity from the magazine when it was announced, he’s gotten quieter and quieter about the magazine over the past several years. His last tweet was a retweet celebrating Playboy’s new issue.
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