Beckman: Fairchild Is About the Content, Not About Me

Q&A: Why the Exec Left After 10 Months and What Happens to That Five-Year Plan for the Trade Division

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When Richard Beckman, president-CEO of Conde Nast's Fairchild division, quit his post Tuesday morning after just 10 months in the job, Fairchild staffers worried.

Richard Beckman
Richard Beckman
Mr. Beckman had just gotten many of them on board for a five-year plan, presented last month, mapping possible new TV shows, publications, events and even acquisitions such as Adweek.

As it turns out, he's leaving to become CEO of e5 Global Media, the group that last month bought trade titles including Adweek, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard. Now Fairchild staffers are simultaneously worried and speculating wildly. Will his successor have the same clout within Conde that Mr. Beckman did? Did he leave out of pique after Conde moved him from his glamorous job atop the Conde Nast Media Group to the less sexy environs of the Fairchild trade division? And could e5 Global Media, formed by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, try to buy Fairchild away from Conde Nast? It's hard to imagine Conde parting with Women's Wear Daily, for one, but given today's surprise, it's suddenly a question more than one Fairchild staffer is asking.

In an exit interview with Advertising Age, edited lightly here, Mr. Beckman took a stab at answering those questions.

Ad Age: Why leave Fairchild after just 10 months?

Mr. Beckman: I'm going to be a partner in the business but also I'm so passionate about the music and entertainment businesses. Their brief to me is to go there and create a really important media and entertainment company that revolves around the entertainment, music and advertising businesses.

I've known Jimmy [Finkelstein] at Pluribus for over a decade and Todd [Boehly] at Guggenheim for a very long time. When they completed this deal we started conversations and it became something where I thought, 'If I don't do this now, go and do something a little more entrepreneurial, I probably never well.'

Conde has provided nothing but incredible opportunities to me, nurtured me, and I am very proud of the time I have here. I have tremendous respect for the company but I think it's time to go do this.

It's been a very interesting time for me. My mother passed away at the end of February. Her last words to me were, 'Live your life.'

This is something I've wanted to do for so long. What I love to do, as you know through a lot of the programs I've worked on, is that convergence of media and entertainment. What we do in developing their platforms, developing the global footprint, diversifying their platforms, is exciting to me.

Ad Age: Would you consider trying to bring some or all of Fairchild into the new e5 portfolio?

Mr. Beckman: The brief they've given me is to build an important media and entertainment company of scale. So I'm sure we're going to be expanding and developing new things. I'm not sure how yet.

Ad Age: Did you resent Conde for moving you to Fairchild?

Mr. Beckman: I had seven and half years running the media group. The longest predecessor in corporate sales lasted about a year and half. And so I was very, very ready to run a division. That was a conversation we had to together. They discussed Parade with me briefly. Fairchild was a better fit.

Ad Age: What about the Fairchild staffers now dispirited because they just bought into the five-year plan you presented to them at a big 'town hall' last month?

Mr. Beckman: The five-year plan is not about Richard Beckman. It's a collaborative work between me and my management team. It wasn't something where some short balding English guy on stage got people energized. It's the content.

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