Employees at Time Inc. are bracing for layoffs, WWD has learned.
Although the company noted that organizational changes are part of its larger transition to a more digital-savvy company, insiders told WWD that the timing of the cuts coincide with salary reviews which arise in March. Insiders pointed to a handful of cuts at Entertainment Weekly and People, and the departure of Time Inc. video guru J.R. McCabe, in particular.
A spokeswoman did not address company-wide layoffs, but instead addressed People and EW.
“Time Inc. is investing heavily in the brands,” the representative said. “We have exciting plans to build up these brands into new platforms. As [chairman and chief executive officer] Joe [Ripp] has said many times, we are committed to stabilizing our top-line revenues and investing for our future.”
The news comes after Time Inc.’s Ripp circulated a memo this week, which laid out organizational changes, including the hiring of ex-Pop Sugar exec Jen Wong as president of Time Inc. Digital and the surprising exit of senior vice president of video J.R. McCabe.
According to Ripp, McCabe “has decided to pursue his entrepreneurial spirit and is leaving the company to work for a start-up operation.”
Some at Time Inc. questioned if his departure was as amicable. Either way, Time Inc. said the search is on for the video exec’s replacement.
Ripp also said Steve Marcopoto had been appointed to the new position of president of Time Inc. International, and he told staffers that executive vice president Evelyn Webster would hand over some of her responsibilities to executive vice president Rich Battista in order to “balance” her workload.
Staffers have buzzed for some time that Webster’s plate had been too full since Time Inc. piled on Todd Larsen’s portfolio of Fortune, Golf, Money, Time and Sports Illustrated to Webster’s already full plate. Larsen had been let go in December 2014, and at the time, Webster had already been in charge of InStyle, Fortune, Real Simple, Southern Living, Departures, Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure, among other titles.
Battista, who joined the company president of People and Entertainment Weekly last March, has now grabbed the Sports Illustrated Group from Webster.
“I have asked Evelyn to continue to move all of her businesses toward growth in 2016,” explained Ripp. “Last year more of our brands found the path to revenue crossover, and we need to focus on making sure that all of our properties deliver the growth that I know they can achieve. We have made several investments in Evelyn’s operations with launches aimed at the fashion and beauty space. This year I have asked Evelyn to ramp up development efforts by working directly with Erik Moreno on sourcing several significant acquisitions.”
The ceo said he hopes all the changes will help the company “continue on the path for the comeback of Time Inc.”
Time Inc.’s stock has struggled over the last 12 months. A year ago, the publisher’s stock was trading on average at $25 a share. Shares plummeted last month to just over $15, and closed at $14.50 on Thursday.
In November, Ripp cut the company’s annual guidance, citing a worse-than-expected print advertising environment. Time Inc. swung to a net loss of $913 million, or $8.30 a diluted share in the third quarter versus a year-ago profit of $48 million, or 44 cents a share. Revenues dipped 5.8 percent to $773 million.
The company is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings next month.