The move looked to some like a reaction to the rough going since Mr. Brownridge's equity backers at Quadrangle Capital Partners bought the company from Felix Dennis last August for an estimated $240 million. The economy in general and the magazine business in particular suffered more than expected in the year that followed. In a market where monthlies' ad pages from January through September have fallen 7.4%, for example, Maxim has declined 5.5% and Blender has lost 22.4%, according to Media Industry Newsletter statistics.
Newsstand sales, typically considered a measure of magazines' vitality, have declined across much of the business as well. Maxim felt that pinch, reporting first-half newsstand sales 11.7% lower than in the first half of 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Blender's newsstand sales held their own, at least, coming in 0.7% above the first half of last year.
Alpha has also absorbed some unexpected departures, including that of the previous CFO, John Lagana, who left last September despite an earlier agreement to stay on. Joe Mangione left last March after six months as chief marketing officer. And Douglas Warshaw exited in April after five months as chief digital officer at Maxim Digital.
But Mr. Brownridge today said the new management structure was an idea he brought to Quadrangle once the major lifting was complete. "It was a company that needed tremendous restructuring, which quite frankly took a little longer than I anticipated," he said. "I hired over 35 people, including the two new CEOs. And at this point all the pieces are in place. I am 68. I'm in perfect health now, but 70-hour work weeks I don't think I'm going to stand. I also have a new wife who was not happy. My work was done in terms of 70-hour work weeks and dealing with every problem."
Mr. Brownridge, who remains a minority investor in Alpha, also said business conditions did not play a role in forming the new plan. "The recession wasn't planned," he said. "The extent to which some of the ad pages are down is certainly a result of that. But this move is not a result of that."