After four and a half years, Amy Odell is ending her impactful tenure at Cosmopolitan.com. She announced the news on Twitter on Thursday morning, attaching a letter she shared with her team. She will be replaced immediately by Jessica Pels, who had been the site director of MarieClaire.com since 2014, Hearst also announced Thursday.
Odell began her tenure at the Hearst property in August 2013 during a time of transition for the publishing house, beginning with a renewed focus on the digital landscape. Having proven her success with building loyal readerships at The Cut and, briefly, BuzzFeed, Odell was a clear choice to grow the digital side of Hearst's biggest women's title.
And that she did: As she notes in her farewell letter, the site's audience more than tripled to 36 million monthly uniques. A press release sent out by Hearst puts the site's monthly unique visitors at a still-impressive 15 million. (A rep says the disparity is due to Hearst citing Comscore while Odell cited Adobe.) Odell also notes the 13 million Snapchat Discover subscribers, 300 million monthly video views and that the site's social media following tripled, as well.
As she points out, Cosmoplitan.com's growth amounted to more than just numbers. "I am even more proud of how we expanded the scope of Cosmo's content to include a wide range of political, feminist and LGBTQ topics," she writes. "Our interview with Ivanka Trump before the presidential election was a particular high point, as was our recent guide on how to run for office."
As for what she does next, it sounds like Cosmopolitan.com could be the last digital property on her resumé for a while. She says she's pursuing "new projects," including her next book. Her first, a fashion industry tell-all called "Tales from the Back Row," was published in 2015. Last year, she told us it was being optioned for film and television.
"We thank Amy for her leadership and dedication, which helped make Cosmopolitan.com the go-to site for millions of young women," said Hearst Magazines Digital Media Senior Vice President, Editorial Director, Kate Lewis in a statement. "She diversified content to include a wide range of topics, led an ambitious push into video, expanded the brand's reach and developed talented teams to maximize content across platforms — some of which did not exist when she took the helm. We wish her the best of luck with her new book and all of her future endeavors."
Lewis had similar praise for Pels. "From the beginning, Jessica elevated MarieClaire.com with style and beauty coverage that's fresh, fun and just the right side of surprising and bold, coupled with news-making features that push forward a cultural conversation," she said. "From profiles of the women who guard our nuclear weapons, to an essay on feminism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to a look at the growing trend of young men wearing makeup, Jessica infused MarieClaire.com with passionate storytelling, and she will bring her unique energy and creativity to Cosmopolitan.com."
"I am absolutely thrilled to step into this incredible role," Pels said in a statement. "Amy and her impressive team have done hefty work building this brand into the digital powerhouse it is today, and I could not be more honored to usher it into its next phase. It's such an exciting time for young women, who have more power and more agency than ever before — Cosmopolitan.com will continue to grow with them and lead the conversation every step of the way."
UPDATE, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1:53 p.m.: On Wednesday, Hearst announced that Sally Holmes, who has served as Elle.com's executive editor since 2017, will replace Pels as digital director of MarieClaire.com, effective Feb. 19. According to a release, Holmes will oversee Marie Claire's online presence, including editorial content, social media and original video production.
"Over the past four years, Sally has been instrumental in helping shape ELLE.com's voice," Lewis said in a statement. "From overseeing the news beat to red carpet coverage to developing original video series, she's been a leader on the team and a go-to source for sharp, funny, ambitious ideas. Her instincts to elevate a story and cultivate editorial talent make her a clear choice to take over MarieClaire.com, where fashion, beauty, and features have been cornerstones of the brand. I'm thrilled to have Sally at the helm."
Holmes first joined Elle.com as a senior news editor, after which she was promoted to the site's deputy editor and last year, executive editor. Previously, she worked as homepage editor and fashion producer at The Cut.
Note: This article was updated to include the different sources Odell and Hearst used to determine Cosmoplitan.com's readership.