Hefner, the daughter of Playboy magnet Hugh Hefner, made the announcement Monday, saying that the leadership change was her decision, but her resignation follows signs of trouble to the Chicago-based publishing and entertainment company.
In October, Playboy said it planned to cut 55 employees and eliminate 25 vacant positions due to the troubled economy.
Named as one of Forbes' "100 Most Powerful Women" in 2005, Hefner was credited with taking the "Playboy empire beyond print."
Hefner joined Playboy in 1975 and was named chairman and CEO in 1988.
"I asked Christie to step up as president when the company faced serious financial difficulties more than two decades ago. She has worked tirelessly to expand the company's franchise, and, as a result of her efforts, the company today has more consumers and fans than at any time in our history," said Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. "Of course, as her father, my first priority is Christie's happiness. While I will miss her leadership here, I believe that she will go on to achieve even greater personal success."
Christy Hefner will stay on as CEO until Jan. 31, 2009, and remain on the board until a new CEO joins the company.
Playboy said that the board will begin looking for a replacement immediately, and that it has appointed Jerome Kern, a long-time director of the company and an experienced media executive, to serve as interim non-executive chairman.
Kern said in a news release Monday, "In the course of her tenure, Christie has overseen Playboy's transition from a domestic magazine publisher to a global lifestyle and multi-media company. She directed the company's entry into TV, online and mobile and helped each of those businesses reach profitability. Under her leadership, the Licensing Group grew from insignificance to become the company's most profitable business. Christie's commitment to the company has been unparalleled, and we are pleased that she has agreed to stay on to help oversee the transition. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors."