NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Time Warner today made it official: Jack Griffin, the well-regarded former Meredith executive, will succeed Anne Moore as CEO of its Time Inc. magazines division at the end of September.
Ms. Moore, who joined Time Inc. in 1978 and has been chairman-CEO since 2002, is retiring, the company said. She will continue as chairman through a transition period, after which Mr. Griffin will assume that post as well.
Last week Mr. Griffin left Meredith, where he helped turn the publisher of magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens into a broader marketing services company with a strategic anchor in magazines. His arrival at Time Inc. is unlikely to quell persistent, if low-level, rumblings on Wall Street that Time Warner might one day spin off its magazines unit, but an analyst said his arrival is welcome in either case.
"I am delighted that Jack is joining Time Inc.," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a statement. "He is an exceptional executive who knows how to expand the reach and relevance of strong publishing brands, and he will be a champion of our high-quality journalism." As CEO, Jack will further advance our lead position in the industry and accelerate the expansion and innovation of our titles on all platforms."
Mr. Griffin's hiring could be viewed in one of two ways, according to Fred Moran, a media analyst who covers Time Warner for The Benchmark Company. "One, that they recognize that magazines are core content, which jibes well with their existing entertainment and programming businesses, leverages their ability to reach advertising clients, and that it needs leadership and refocusing," he said.
"The other way to interpret it could be that they are bringing in a proven leader to the magazine business to pretty it up for eventual spinoff, a la what they did to the cable and AOL divisions," Mr. Moran said.
"Either way, we view it as positive for Time Warner shareholders, as it shows that Time Inc. will not become a forgotten asset the way AOL was," he added.
Mr. Griffin said he was honored. "Time Inc. has a strong culture of excellence and leadership, and I look forward to working with the great team there to continue moving the company forward," he said in the Time Warner statement. "It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of my friend and colleague Ann Moore, who has done so much for Time Inc. and the industry."
Ms. Moore, whose contract had been slated to run through 2012, said Mr. Griffin had been her pick for a successor for some time. "It's a vote of confidence in our strategy that Jeff and the board have landed one of the most experienced leaders in our industry," she said.
Mr. Bewkes praised Ms. Moore as he announced her successor. "On behalf of all our colleagues, I want to thank Ann Moore for her 32 years of distinguished service at Time Inc.," he said. "She has made so many contributions over that period, including launching some of our biggest brands and diversifying our advertising client list, and, most recently, advising me on recruiting Jack. And she has done a remarkable job of leading the company over the past eight years, a challenging time in publishing. Ann has also been a visionary in digital, leading the industry to innovate across all emerging platforms. And through it all, she proved to readers and advertisers that there is great value in both the old and the new publishing formats."