Joanna Coles
Appeared In
Special Issue
Digital Daily issue 03/03/2017


Joanna Coles may be a board member of one of the buzziest technology companies around, but her shares of Snap Inc. after a day of trading aren’t worth enough to allow her to go into early retirement — yet.

Coles, who serves as chief content officer of Hearst Magazines, holds 65,106 restricted shares that are, at the moment, worth $1.6 million. That number is based on Snap’s Thursday closing price of $24.48 a share after the debut of the company’s initial public offering. Although Coles’ haul isn’t anything to sneeze at, it’s only on par with the salary of a relatively high-profile editor in chief at Hearst rival Condé Nast. (Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter is said to make in the neighborhood of $2 million a year while artistic director Anna Wintour makes significantly more.)

This story first appeared in the March 3, 2017 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But that doesn’t mean the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan isn’t primed for a windfall of her own if Snap materializes into a Facebook, which, when it went public in 2012, closed at $38.23. On Thursday, that stock closed at $136.76 a share. On the other hand, the social media-centric Snapchat could follow in the footsteps of Twitter, which went public in 2013 and had a roaring debut at $44.90. It now trades at $15.79 a share.

Coles joined the board of Snap (then called Snapchat) in 2015 after she worked with the company to bring Cosmopolitan to its Discover Platform. She played a role in launching a new channel, Sweet, a joint-venture between Hearst and Snapchat.

Developing the voice and brand DNA of Sweet has been tricky and labor-intensive, according to insiders. Originally pitched as an upscale lifestyle brand for women, Sweet has had a few identity crises, not to mention a turnover in staff and editorial management. Nonetheless, Coles’ role as the sole female board member at the male-dominated Snap, has been a benefit for the Los Angeles-based firm, which has been able to brush off its past. Before Snapchat went mainstream, one of the main uses for the mobile messaging app was to pass naked selfies via photo or video that would disappear after a few seconds.

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