Time Inc.'s Ann Moore Keeps Focus on Big Brands While Selling Off 18 Titles
PHOENIX (AdAge.com) -- With the imperative of converting Time Inc.'s many powerful print products into equally powerful digital brands, Ann S. Moore, the company's chairman-CEO, said she feels like a parent with hundreds of children who all need to go to college at the same time.
Likening the planned sell-off of 18 of her company's titles to Procter & Gamble refocusing on core brands, Ms. Moore, speaking today at the American Magazine Conference, explained that at a time when everyone is frantically reinventing their magazine companies, it is crucial that she concentrate on Time Inc.'s biggest products, such as Time and Sports Illustrated. She added that its niche titles would be neglected had Time Inc. tried to maintain all 150 or so of its products.
Bids are due on the titles Oct. 25, so Ms. Moore's comments -- made during a panel titled "Just What Business Are We In?" -- were timely and amounted to something of a sales spiel. She insisted that the titles are profitable and that the editorial staff on them among the "most talented" she's worked with. She said that "the auction has been very robust."
Ms. Moore also expressed her wish that they find a strategic buyer for the complete package of titles, as opposed, presumably, to selling them piecemeal or to a private-equity firm that might simply break them up for resale.
Ms. Moore was bullish on the business that will be left after that sale, calling downbeat media coverage of the magazine industry to be out of step with reality. In her remarks she noted that "we're still in the same business despite all the chaos," and served a reminder to the mainstream magazine and newspaper world to continue doing what it should do best -- real, fact-checked editorial content.
Blogs and gossip sites, she said, should not trigger a lowering of standards, but rather reinforce the value of journalistic standards. "A little more fact-checking and authority would go a long way," Ms. Moore told attendees during the panel. Growing information overload should make Time Inc. brands more valuable to consumers instead of less, she said. "I feel amazingly optimistic." She also asked that journalists spell her name correctly.
Ms. Moore was asked hypothetically whether Time Inc. might be better off if it were a private company. "No question," Ms. Moore said. "Come on." She said that she thought many public company CEOs such as General Motors Corp.'s Rick Wagoner, for example, would welcome the chance to right their business without the short-term pressure exerted by the Street.
Being a public company is tough for almost everyone right now, but is doubly hard for Time Inc. because the magazine business is undergoing so much change, she said. Not that Ms. Moore shrinks from the fight: "We can sit in a corner and whine about it or we can roll up our sleeves," she said.