A DIGITAL SHAKEUP: After months of waiting, Condé Nast said on Tuesday afternoon that publishers will finally get full control of their Web sites, while Condé Nast Digital will become a shell of what it once was.
Ad sales and marketing efforts for Condé’s sites will be transferred from Condé Nast Digital to the individual publishers in the coming months. Publishers have been craving this moment for a while. “We have been clamoring to get more control of the sites,” said one.
This story first appeared in the October 27, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A big winner from Tuesday’s announcement appears to be chief marketing director Lou Cona. The move puts Condé Nast Digital’s remaining sales and marketing operations under the umbrella of the Condé Nast Media Group, which Cona heads. It’ll be up to Cona’s group to sell across digital brands. Drew Schutte, who had been chief revenue officer at Condé Nast Digital, will now serve as a point man between individual brand publishers and the media group as chief integration officer, and will report to Cona. Internet sales group publisher Josh Stinchcomb will assume the title of vice president of digital sales for Condé Nast and also report to Cona.
Sarah Chubb, the president of Condé Nast Digital, loses much of her power and will now oversee content and operations for sites like brides.com, Epicurious and Reddit. Condé Nast Digital chief operating officer Debi Chirichella will oversee financial operations for all the company’s Web sites and digital offerings, and, like Chubb, will report to company president Bob Sauerberg. (In her role as chief operating officer of Fairchild Fashion Group, Chirichella also reports to chief executive officer Gina Sanders.)
The writing on the wall about Condé Nast Digital’s future became even clearer this week when Style.com was transferred out of that division and joined the Fairchild Fashion Group. Also, on Monday, Condé Nast said all of its future tablet devices will be developed by Adobe, and not by Condé Nast Digital, which had built out apps for GQ, Glamour and Vanity Fair.
Condé Nast chief executive officer Charles Townsend said in an interview the purpose behind the realignment is to find more money, particularly through potential digital revenues. He said that when digital accounted for only 1 percent of revenue at Condé Nast, digital likewise had about a 1 percent “relative” importance to the company. Now that digital revenue represents close to 10 percent of total revenue, he said it’s becoming his primary focus.
“Let me get this piece out of the way,” he said. “This is not a restructuring or a head count reduction or cost saving. That’s what we went through in 2009 and that was a pure restructuring. This is really driven by the marketplace and the practicality of the marketplace. This is bringing the breadth of our assets together in one seamless way.”
— John Koblin and Matthew Lynch
D.C. GOES WEST: The 24th Annual Women’s Conference in Long Beach, Calif., drew 14,000 attendees who lined up beginning at 6 a.m. to hear the morning’s trio of political power speakers: the event’s host, California First Lady Maria Shriver (in a dark purple shift, the same color she wore last year), second lady of the United States Jill Biden and, the cause for the early check-in and tightened security, First Lady Michelle Obama. The long list of introductory speakers, including Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Brian Phillips, Suze Orman, Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Starbucks chief Howard Schultz, were merely filling time before the Ladies took the stage. Shriver gave another heartfelt speech — though she wouldn’t say what she plans to do when she and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leave Sacramento come January — which was in many ways a farewell to her first lady post.
“I thought my work would be over by the time I had to leave this job, but it’s still evolving,” she said. “But I was right to move to California; people here are dreamers, creative and daring. I feel at home here and I want to thank the people for understanding that being a first lady representing a different political party from the governor had its complications. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, it has been a hell of a ride.”
For Obama, who spoke at the conference when she was still a candidate’s wife, the work is just beginning; she spoke of supporting military wives and families. Luckily she wasn’t at the Robert Redford Q&A, where the outspoken actor told Linda Ellerbee, “The leadership in this country is getting dumber and dumber.” The political power train continued after lunch, when Diane Sawyer moderated a conversation with Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who kept things light. “My husband said the reason he became such a good cook was because of my cooking,” said the latter, while the former said, “My husband, who I met when I was 18, was the only man who seemed to care that I had a brain.” — Marcy Medina
GIRL ON FILM: The planned film about Isabella Blow is quietly taking shape: The Swedish filmmaker Anders Palm will be producing the film, and has recently optioned Lauren Goldstein Crowe’s upcoming book, “Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion” (Thomas Dunne Books), and hired the author as a consultant. A screenplay has already been co-written by Max Newsom and Nicola Brighton, and the book will be used as background, according to Goldstein Crowe. Philip Treacy and John Galliano have both been linked to the project, although their exact roles have not yet been confirmed. Goldstein Crowe’s book will be released in the U.S. on Nov. 9, as will a separate book about the stylist, who committed suicide in 2007, penned by Blow’s widower, Detmar Blow, and Tom Sykes. — Samantha Conti