Time’s latest ‘100’ triumph, a smart media-world exit, and what’s next for publishing
Welcome to the latest edition of Ad Age Publisher’s Brief, our roundup of news from the world of content producers across digital and print.
Insert ‘100’ emoji (and fire emoji and dollar-sign emoji) here
Just over a year ago, Marc Benioff, the founder and co-CEO of Salesforce, and his wife Lynne agreed to buy Time magazine from Meredith Corporation for $190 million in cash. If they’ve ever had second thoughts about that splurge, the Time 100 Health Summit, held yesterday in New York City, surely helped erase any doubts.
As noted in Publisher’s Brief on Sept. 19 when the event was first announced, the Time 100 Health Summit is an extension of Time’s blazingly successful Time 100 Summit, which is tied to the magazine’s annual “World’s Most Influential People” list. That flagship event, which started as a gala and is now also a conference, is one of the publishing world’s highest-wattage gatherings. So expectations were rather lofty for the health-focused spin-off.
Expectations were ... far exceeded.
Led by Edward Felsenthal, Time’s CEO and editor-in-chief, the summit was held at Pier 17, a sleek new waterfront event venue in Manhattan’s Seaport District with views of the East River bridges, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.
Time’s events team worked with the summit’s co-chairs—Alice Park, Time’s senior health correspondent, and Dr. David Agus, the CEO of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC—to pull together an A-list lineup of healthcare power-brokers, including Alex Azar, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Anne Wojcicki, the CEO of 23andMe; Dr. Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; James Park, the co-founder of Fitbit; and Sean Parker, the philanthropist and first president of Facebook who founded the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
To add a deeply human element to the proceedings, artists and activists were also in the mix—including Andrew Barth Feldman, who sang a song from “Dear Evan Hansen” (the current Broadway hit that’s spurred all kinds of conversations about mental health), and comedian Tig Notaro, who spoke movingly/hilariously about deploying humor during her battle with breast cancer.
And the procession of star power was rounded out by a morning interview with Al Gore (conducted by Nancy Gibbs, the former Time EIC who now heads the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center) and an afternoon session with Bill Clinton (in conversation with Dr. Agus).
The whole day was a rather breathtaking flex—there are only a handful of media brands that you could ever imagine being able to pull off an event like this (especially with such a short lead time). And it felt galvanizing, despite much protestation by various speakers about the disastrous politicization of healthcare and the current anti-science climate under the Trump administration.
I stuck around for the entire thing—it was that fascinating and worthwhile—and during various breaks and lunch I spoke with a number of healthcare entrepreneurs who were thrilled by the conversations on stage and the connections they were making with potential collaborators and policy-makers.
This wasn’t just the start of something big—it was itself a very big deal.
Speaking of Marc Benioff...
“Time owner slams Facebook as ‘the new cigarette,’” via the New York Post’s Keith Kelly.
Speaking of must-attend events...
Skim this: “Media experts on the future of publishing: Hear from Condé Nast, Essence, NYT, Vox, WSJ and more.” And then register here for Ad Age Next: Publishing, a brisk, half-day mini conference on the state of state-of-the-art publishing. It’s coming up on Nov. 14 in Manhattan.
James Ledbetter, the veteran New York journalist (Reuters, Slate, Time, the Village Voice, etc.) who has led Inc., the Mansueto Ventures-owned business title, as editor since 2014, is heading west.
Today’s his last day at Inc.; he’s leaving to join Sequoia Capital, the storied Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm, as its head of content, a new position that involves ramping up an existing range of bespoke content, including newsletters and videos. “The goal will be to create content for early-stage entrepreneurs,” he tells Publisher’s Brief. As media-world exits go, this one’s pretty brilliant—but in a way, it’s not really an exit, because Ledbetter’s already been doing a version of his new job at his old job, given that Inc. (which was quite excellent under his leadership) is read by a lot of early-stage entrepreneurs.
ICYMI, R.I.P.: “Family Circle, a pillar of women’s magazines, will shut down after 87 years,” via Alex Johnson of NBC News.
Link-less: “At the Times, a Hesitance to Hyperlink,” per Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Jason Koebler of Vice.
Storytime: “Katie Couric Plots ‘SeeHer Stories’ for People Magazine,” via Variety’s Brian Steinberg.
In News news: “Apple News strikes ad deal with Verizon and issues new guide for publishers,” per Ad Age’s Garett Sloane.
Listen up: “Cosmo’s editor reflects on her first year on the job”—Jessica Pels in conversation with Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker, in his latest “Ad Lib” podcast.