Time Warner maintains that Time Inc.'s business was looking up by
the time Mr. Griffin arrived and its strategy -- which includes
reversing a decline in circulation revenue and margin; extending a
direct relationship with customers, making content available on all
digital platforms; and expanding a footprint in marketing services
-- will continue, according to the corporate parent.
But Mr. Griffin's departure is disappointing, said one person
who buys print media. He was skilled at applying new thinking to
traditional models and his arrival at Time Inc. was seen as
"exciting and appealing." Yet this person, along with others both
inside and outside Time Inc., questioned certain personnel moves,
for example letting go of Kirk MacDonald, former president-digital
at Time Inc., and in December moving Kim Kelleher from publisher of
Sports Illustrated, where she had made several hard changes that
were starting to pay off, into the publisher role at Time.
For his part, Mr. Griffin issued an equally terse statement on
Friday afternoon, defending his short tenure at the publisher.
"I was recruited and hired by Time Warner to lead the business
transformation of Time Inc., based on my clear record of success
and results in the industry," Mr. Griffin said in a statement
issued Friday, the day after he was ousted. "This continued at Time
Inc., with the consistent and documented acclaim of Time Warner's
senior management. ... My exit was clearly not about management
style or results. I leave behind a first rate team and wish them
all the best of success."
Mr. Griffin succeeded Ann Moore as Time Inc. CEO in September
and added the title of chairman in January. His changes at the
company included splitting the news and sports group in two;
shuffling publishers at Time, Sports Illustrated and Money;
elevating Martha Nelson from editor of the style and entertainment
group to the company's No. 2 editorial post, behind Editor in Chief
John Huey; promoting Paul Caine to exec VP-chief revenue officer,
handing him many duties that had been handled by Stephanie George;
naming Ms. George CMO, a newly created position; and hiring Randall
Rothenberg, who had been president-CEO of the Interactive
Advertising Bureau, as Time Inc.'s first chief digital officer.
Mr. Griffin will be replaced on an interim bases by three
executives managing as a committee, Chief Financial officer Howard
Averill, General Counsel Maurice Edelson and Mr. Huey.
Under the hands-off management style of former Time Inc. CEO Ann
Moore, the three were said to have gained power and operated fairly
independently -- and insiders note they worked closely with Mr.
Bewkes. While some in the industry were floating Mr. Rothenberg,
brought in by Mr. Griffin, as a potential replacement, Time Warner
said it would conduct a full search and wouldn't rule anyone in or
Meanwhile, the industry absorbed the shock.
"Frankly don't get it," a Meredith employee said on Facebook,
saying he worked for Mr. Griffin for six years and also had worked
at Time Inc. "JG too smart..."
~ ~ ~
Contributing: Ann Marie Kerwin