Time Warner said late Thursday that Jack Griffin, the chairman and CEO of its Time Inc. magazine unit, is leaving after less than five months on the job.
"Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a memo to Time Inc. employees.
Mr. Griffin declined to comment. Executives familiar with the situation said Mr. Griffin's strategy was on target but his management style had occasionally proven grating enough to become a distraction for some employees.
His ouster today came more quickly than anyone expected but was not a surprise in every sense, one Time Inc. employee said Thursday night. "He had a style that some people would describe as demeaning," the employee said. "It was getting in the way of business. People were starting to get the sense that Time Warner was getting a sense of it."
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.
Some of his changes also alienated some long-time staffers, the Time Inc. employee said. "We had turned it around, in advertising and in all the technology stuff. And the other thing is he brought in all these consultants who were telling us how everything we were doing was stupid, and actually some things we were doing were pretty smart."
Before joining Time Inc., Mr. Griffin had been president of the National Media Group at Meredith Corp., which publishes magazines including Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle and More."He is an exceptional executive who knows how to expand the reach and relevance of strong publishing brands, and he will be a champion of our high-quality journalism," Mr. Bewkes said last summer when hiring Mr. Griffin. "As CEO, Jack will further advance our lead position in the industry and accelerate the expansion and innovation of our titles on all platforms."
Last year Mr. Griffin also become chairman of the MPA, the magazine industry's trade association.
Mr. Bewkes told Time Inc. employees on Thursday that their company would be run on an interim basis by Mr. Huey, Time Inc. chief financial officer Howard Averill and general counsel Maurice Edelson.
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Read the full memo:
February 17, 2011
To: Time Inc. Colleagues
From: Jeff Bewkes
Subject: Jack Griffin
I regret to inform you that Jack Griffin is leaving his position as Chairman and CEO of Time Inc. Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner.
Until a permanent successor is identified, Time Inc. will be led by an experienced interim management committee, reporting directly to me, composed of Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey. You will be hearing from them within the next several days regarding their plans during this transitional period.
This company and its executive team have made many important advances in the last few years. Throughout, you have distinguished yourselves with professionalism and dedication to your craft, and as a result of that hard work the company's momentum has been restored.
With our deep and talented pool of employees, I'm confident that during this transitional period Time Inc. will continue to grow and prosper, and that you will continue the brilliant work that has defined our company.