They say you can't go home again, but don't tell that to Matt Bean, who will be returning to Rodale as editor of Men's Health magazine, the company will announce Friday.
Mr. Bean, 38, starts work Monday, after finishing up at Time Inc. Friday. He joined Time Inc. from Rodale in 2012, and has served in a number of roles over the last few years, most recently as senior VP-editorial innovation. He's also edited Entertainment Weekly and served as managing editor of Sports Illustrated digital.
He first worked at Men's Health as an associate editor back in 2004, later taking posts as articles editor and brand development editor, during the heyday of then-editor-in-chief David Zinczenko.
At Men's Health, he will succeed Bill Phillips, who left the company in June. Executive editor Bill Stump has edited the magazine on an interim basis since then while the company searched for a replacement.
"It's a rare opportunity to be able to return and to be able to lead a place that helped form you," Mr. Bean told Ad Age. "It feels like a new Rodale relative to when I was there last, and it's an exciting feeling."
Rodale CEO Maria Rodale, in a staff memo, called Mr. Bean "a thoroughly modern editor with a clear vision for the Men's Health brand," and said "he possesses a rock solid understanding of the business."
As senior VP-editorial innovation at Time Inc., he was encouraged to take the approach of a startup, and helped create editorial ventures like Extra Crispy, a digital property dedicated to the culture of breakfast.
"It was an incredible education here at Time Inc., because it was such a period of change," he said. "You can learn so much from the transitions you're undergoing."
Time Inc. this week named Rich Battista, who only joined the company last year, to succeed Joe Ripp as its CEO. Asked for an appraisal of Mr. Battista, Mr. Bean said, "Look at what he's been able to accomplish in the short time that he's been there."
But back to his plans for Men's Health: Mr. Bean said he sees the magazine as something of a "launch pad" for new franchises, and discussed the importance of coordinating the brand across all of those launches.
He also talked about tapping into the magazine's "coefficient of meaning." Basically, he argued, readers actually care about the magazine, so there should be some way of making the most of that. To date, he said, that "has not yet been fully leveraged digitally, and is only beginning to be leveraged in the social space."
Asked whether men's magazines like Men's Health are still vital, Mr. Bean replied, "I think Men's Health is probably more valid as a brand than it's ever been." More broadly, he said "men have never needed men's magazines more than they do right now."