Condé Nast’s chief business officer and president of revenue Jim Norton has been given his walking papers.
The former AOL executive, who was brought in a year ago to restructure the business side of the publishing house, will be replaced by chief marketing officer Pamela Drucker Mann. Drucker Mann, who will assume the title of chief revenue officer and marketing officer, is the company’s first female head of sales.
Chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg touted Drucker Mann’s experience, which included building the Food Innovation Group and seizing on new selling opportunities in video, social media and data insights.
“In less than five years, she more than doubled FIG’s revenue,” Sauerberg said in a memo Thursday. “Her passion for our company and deep knowledge of the industry is boundless, and she truly understands the power and potential of our brands. In her new role, Pam’s strategic thinking, focus and clarity will be invaluable to furthering our company’s transformation and the unification of the Condé Nast One sales team.”
The ceo added that chief experience officer Josh Stinchcomb will join the executive committee, working alongside Drucker Mann and reporting to him.
Sauerberg also thanked Norton for his brief and disruptive stint, which lasted under a year. In that time, Norton overhauled the business side, shaking up the original structure of one publisher per magazine title in favor of a group-publishing model, in which “chief business officers” would oversee multiple magazines. (The New Yorker and Vogue retained the old single-publisher model.) Certain publishers were also elevated to sell across categories, such as luxury or beauty, and were given the spiffy title of chief industry officer. The changes largely decentralized the advertising selling structure to accommodate a multichannel selling strategy.
News of Norton’s departure is hardly a surprise — the crows have been circling the executive for most of this year. Although Norton was instrumental in helping modernize Condé Nast’s business side, many complained that he did not understand the core of the company’s business, which is luxury, fashion, beauty — and still print.
Complaints hit a fever pitch this past summer over the fact that Norton did not have any big sales wins and that his understanding of the business wasn’t improving. To compound matters, he had a few cringe-worthy episodes at company functions, including at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. The real issue, according to sources, was that his expertise was from AOL, not from a print-centric company, which turned out to be problematic in terms of maintaining relationships with clients.
As the halls of One World Trade Center got noisier, pressure began to mount on Sauerberg, who brought Norton in as a change agent. As part of that transition, company star, chief marketing officer and president of Condé’s Media Group Edward Menicheschi exited.
At the time, bringing in the digitally savvy Norton was seen as a bold move by Sauerberg. Since that clearly didn’t work out, Sauerberg’s appointment of Drucker Mann is considered by many as another one. She is a known quantity at Condé, having started at the company in 2011 as publisher of Bon Appétit, and is regarded as a hard-charging leader who is a doer. Nonetheless, she now is in one of the most high-profile, high-turnover positions at the company.
That sense of high stakes was communicated by Sauerberg, who noted: “Our company and our industry are in dynamic periods of change, which is exciting, but also can be daunting. But Condé Nast has always met challenges with boldness and creativity, and we will continue to do so as we transform and change for the future. We have the best brands, the best talent and the most opportunities, and I am both confident and excited for the future of our company.”
In the coming weeks, Condé Nast is expected to undergo further changes on both the editorial and business sides, including more tweaks to Norton’s new structure.