Alan Webber and Bill Taylor to Stay on as Consultants

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NEW YORK ( -- In an internal memo released yesterday by Gruner & Jahr USA, the founders and co-editors of Fast Company, Alan Webber and Bill Taylor, have announced to the magazine's staff that they will step down once a new, sole editor in chief is named.

According to the memo, Messrs. Webber and Taylor met with G&J CEO Dan Brewster in New York last week to discuss their plans.

'Fresh eyes, new blood'
"At the meeting we made the following proposal: It is time to recruit an editor-in-chief for Fast Company -- a new member of the team," the memo said. "Dan could not have been more supportive. He authorized us to begin a search to recruit and assist" G&J in hiring a new editor. According to the memo, Messrs. Webber and Taylor felt that to take the magazine to the "next level," the business title needed "fresh eyes, new blood, and a blast of additional energy."

"They [Webber and Taylor] called me up and said they would like to meet with me and Dan and talk about the future," said Dan Rubin, executive vice president of G&J. "It was a surprise. They came in. We had a meeting and they said they are happy with what they are doing on the cover. They are happy with the magazine but they've been at this day-to-day edit work for 10 years and they really think to take it to the next level, they need more support and a fresher editorial person."

Dot-com boom and bust
Fast Company was born in the start of the dot-com boom in 1993, and it has just been weathering the bust by the skin of its perfect binding thanks to G&J, which acquired the publication from private investors in December 2000 for an estimated $300 million.

Since then ad pages at Fast Company, as well as other so-called new economy publications such as Wired and Red Herring have nose-dived. According to Publishers Information Bureau, Fast Company's ad page count dropped to 805 pages last year, down more than 18% from the year before. The magazine claimed total circulation of over 725,000 this year and a readership of more than 3 million.

Mr. Rubin said the title has been gaining momentum this year. He said ad page counts in January were up 18%.

No timetable
Messrs. Webber and Taylor will stay on as co-editors until a replacement is found, and then they will assume roles as consultants, Mr. Rubin said. There is no timetable for the hiring, but "we will hire as soon as possible," said the executive, who did not know if Messrs. Webber and Taylor would work full or part time as consultants, or if the they had other options.

"They have not shared with us any other plans," Mr. Rubin said. "They are very sure that in their consulting role with us that Fast Company will have a second, very strong life."

CMO Cindy Spengler
In an unrelated development, G&J announced that Chief Marketing Officer Cindy Spengler would add the title of executive vice president. Ms. Spengler has been behind several prominent new hires, including that of publisher Kate Kelly Smith at Child and publisher Julie Pinkwater at Fitness, and spearheaded changes within the corporate sales division. As executive vice president, she will assume more responsibility for client relationships, and also will supervise YM, the company's most successful title, working closely with its publisher, Laura McEwen.

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