Ann S. Moore, chairman-CEO at Time Inc.
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"Steering an organization through change is hard," she said. "You cannot lead change alone. You have to pick people who are different from you. You must nurture healthy debate."
Distressing press coverage
Press coverage of some elements of the transformation, like the closure of several news bureaus around the country, has also distressed Ms. Moore a bit. "I'm so disappointed when I read in the press what a goofy thing it was to do to close six bureaus around the world," she said, suggesting that the move was about real-estate cost more than reducing editorial assets. So the question, in her lights, shouldn't have been, "Why would you shut People magazine's Austin, Texas, bureau?"
"The question should have been, 'Why did she have a bureau in Austin?'"
But all that said -- and with layoffs, several magazine shutdowns and a batch of magazine sales complete -- Time Inc. and the magazine business retain bright futures, said Ms. Moore, the company's chairman-CEO. She spoke at a breakfast arranged by the Magazine Publishers of America.
"You know, everybody stay calm," she suggested. "This is a great business we're in."
Digital revenue growing
As proof, Ms. Moore described growing revenue at Sports Illustrated, for example, after "a decade of was pretty much flat." That's partly due to SI's success online, she said, pointing out that the brand's revenue contribution from digital has grown from 5% in 2005 to 13% last year to a projected 18% in 2007. People magazine's website, only recently reclaimed from AOL, is growing wildly as well and now draws more unique visitors than any other entertainment site except TMZ, she said.
"Trust me," she added, "there is a profitable business here."
Ms. Moore also tackled a recurring topic of speculation, whether Time Warner may eventually spin off some or all of the magazine unit. "Despite what you read, we are not for sale," she said. In any case, she argued, the Bear Stearns report that has recently kept the subject alive undervalues Time Inc.
"If you're going to spin me off, you better get a good price," she said.