What Jack Griffin Would Mean at the Helm of Time Inc.

Magazine Publisher Likely to Shift Further Toward Marketing-Services Model

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If Jack Griffin succeeds Ann Moore as CEO of Time Inc. as expected, the publisher of magazines including Time, People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated is likely to evolve further beyond a straightforward magazine company and more toward the marketing-services model that's rising within the industry.

Jack Griffin
Jack Griffin
Mr. Griffin, who had been president of Meredith Corp.'s National Media Group, attracted attention at that company, the publisher of magazines such as Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, partly for his role in its acquisition of agencies specializing in digital marketing, social media and search advertising.

The New York Post reported Wednesday night that Ms. Moore is expected to step down as CEO and will likely be succeeded by Mr. Griffin. Executives at Time Inc., its parent company Time Warner and Meredith declined to comment.

"Ann was extremely skilled and talented in what I'm calling a different media landscape, under not only different media conditions but different economics conditions," said Robin Steinberg, senior VP and director of print investment and activation at MediaVest Worldwide. "She built a brilliant business."

"But times have changed, and the way we need to think about our business is evolving," Ms. Steinberg added. "Jack has done an incredible job of understanding the new landscape and shaping Meredith into an organization that is clearly not just a magazine company but a marketing services and content company that focuses on consumer insights, content and channel distribution."

Ann Moore
Ann Moore Credit: AP
Ms. Moore joined Time Inc. in 1978, rising through the organization as she oversaw successful launches such as Teen People and In Style. She was named chairman-CEO of Time Inc. in 2002, going on to preside over major changes as the magazine business was buffeted by the rise of digital media and, more recently, the downturn in ad spending. Those forces, among other things, meant Ms. Moore eventually decided to close the once-hot Teen People.

She also sold 18 of Time Inc.'s magazines, including Field & Stream and Popular Science, in 2007 as part of a bid to concentrate the company's resources on its largest and most-profitable brands. And she instituted several staff reductions and reorganizations, including a round of 105 job eliminations in December 2005 and 289 more in January 2007.

"While we continue to invest in our core magazines, we are also focused on transforming our work force and broadening our digital capabilities in order to become a truly multiplatform publisher," she said in a staff memo at the time. "But progress brings change and we need to continue to evolve to meet the cost pressures and challenges presented by our rapidly shifting industry."

Ms. Moore also shut down Cottage Living, Business 2.0 and Life.

Her moves were unpopular among some staff but leave Time Inc. a leaner operation than it had been. The company has lately been pushing hard to make the most of the iPad and other mobile devices as magazines, chastened by the difficulty securing premium ad rates on the internet and the swings in print advertising, hope to get circulation revenue and more lucrative ad revenue from digital products.

Time Warner said yesterday that ad revenue at Time Inc. increased 4% in the most recent quarter, compared with the quarter a year earlier, with print advertising up in the high-single digits and digital ad revenue up in the high teens. Print subscription revenue, on the other hand, remained relatively flat with a modest 1% uptick. "We think subscription revenue could be down for the rest of 2010," CFO John Martin said.

The change at Time Inc. is only the latest in a series of executive shifts in the magazine business. Conde Nast recently promoted Robert Sauerberg to president, succeeding Charles H. Townsend, who continues as CEO. Conde said Mr. Sauerberg would help the company adopt a "new business model" and "move beyond the magazine."

Hearst also recently named David Carey, who had been a group president at Conde, to become its new president, succeeding Cathie Black, who continues as chairman. On Monday Meredith Corp. named Tom Harty, who had been president of consumer magazines, to succeed the exiting Mr. Griffin as president of its National Media Group. Mr. Griffin, Meredith said, was leaving to "pursue another opportunity."

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