Gruner & Jahr CEO Dan Brewster lured Mr. Carey from the lofty publisher's perch at The New Yorker to become group president-CEO. Mr. Carey is charged with building on Gruner & Jahr's two major acquisitions of 2000, Inc. and Fast Company.
Mr. Carey, 39, left one of the magazine industry's most prestigious jobs for a blank canvas-one that, when completed, could lead to bigger things.
MAY ROCKET UPWARD
"I would not be surprised to see him rocket through that organization and take a key role in running it," says Mr. Carey's previous boss, Steve Florio, CEO at Conde Nast Publications, which owns The New Yorker.
To put Mr. Carey's departure in perspective, Mr. Florio says that since he started running Conde Nast in 1994, only one other publisher has resigned-Ron Galotti, who left Vogue in 1998 to start up Talk Media with Tina Brown.
"There's probably no other job out there that would have pulled me out of The New Yorker," says Mr. Carey, scant weeks after he started in his new post on Jan. 24. "The people who have signed on to G&J are signed on to be [present] at the birth of a major publishing company in America. That doesn't happen all that often."
Mr. Brewster's mandate at Gruner & Jahr is to double the revenue of the company within five years. Excluding its acquisitions, in 2000 the company took in about $420 million.
"What I have in mind" for Mr. Carey's unit, says Mr. Brewster, who first worked with Mr. Carey at Time Inc.'s Life 12 years ago, "is information that is applicable and useful for new business owners, managers of emerging businesses and people who provoke change at large businesses."
"I'm very impressed with what he's done, particularly with launches and turnarounds," Mr. Brewster says. Mr. Carey co-founded SmartMoney, and he oversaw the team that piloted The New Yorker to its status as one of this year's Advertising Age's Best Magazines.
BUILDING A DIVISION
For his part, Mr. Carey says he wants a division built around three to five major consumer business titles, bolstered by trade publishing, conferences, newsletters and Internet sites. Other opportunities may lie abroad.
Plans are under way to redesign Inc., and to integrate Fast Company's and Inc.'s Web staffs and gird those titles for what's already a tough year.
But that's fine with Mr. Carey, who says "much to my wife's pain," he prefers assignments with potential of a great upside or downside: "It's more fun to solve the equation."