Time Inc., the publisher of brands from People to Fortune, has named Rich Battista CEO, succeeding the chief executive of three years, Joe Ripp.
The unexpected move represents a quick rise for Mr. Battista, who joined Time Inc. in April 2015 as exec VP at Time Inc. and president of People and Entertainment Weekly, was promoted to president-entertainment and sports group and video in January and became president-brands in July, with all U.S. publications reporting into him.
Mr. Ripp will continue as executive chairman of Time Inc.'s board of directors.
"I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to lead this tremendous company for the past three years, and I am excited about its future," Mr. Ripp said in a statement. "We have made real progress in the transformation into a multimedia, multi-platform enterprise. As we look to the next phase of our strategy, Rich is the right choice to execute our plans and deliver shareholder value."
The details of that next phase are unclear. Mr. Battista's remarks in the statement echoed the language of many publishing executives since digital media began upending their business model. "During this dynamic time in media, we are transforming Time Inc. to a cross-media company and are uniquely positioned to leverage our brands, scale, data and insights to significantly grow new lines of business in service to advertisers, marketers and consumers," Mr. Battista said.
Time Inc. has certainly undergone changes since Mr. Ripp's arrival. He began by assigning editors to report to the organization's business side, rather than to a company editor-in-chief as they had for decades, and replacing that editor-in-chief role with a chief content officer. That was partly meant to decentralize and streamline Time Inc.'s bureaucracy before the company's pending split from parent Time Warner. The spin-off was completed in June 2014.
Most recently Time Inc. has been reorganizing again, naming Fortune editor Alan Murray to the additional post of chief content officer, switching editors back from reporting to the business side, parting ways with Exec VP Evelyn Webster, and structuring sales efforts around marketer categories more than in the past. This summer's moves were expected to include layoffs.
Time Inc. under Mr. Ripp also made acquisitions such as American Express Co.'s publishing arm, the website HelloGiggles, and the MySpace parent Viant. It sold This Old House and Mexican division Grupo Editorial Expansión. And it created a content studio called The Foundry, meant to create new editorial products as well as branded content. Its first product was an auto site called The Drive.
Word of Mr. Ripp's exit as CEO comes a month after sometimes-activist investor Jana Partners acquired a stake in Time Inc. Jana Partners held 5% of the publisher's shares at the end of June, according to a filing.
At only three years, Mr. Ripp's tenure was still longer than his two immediate predecessors as CEO. Laura Lang became a lame duck 14 months after arriving when she said she wouldn't continue past the spin-off, and Time Warner fired Jack Griffin after less than five months in the post. Ann Moore was CEO from 2002 through 2010.
Mr. Battista was previously CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide International and held management roles at Fox Television.
-- With Bloomberg News