BOB’S L.A. STORY: Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg made a surprise visit to the company’s Los Angeles office on Friday to address the edit and sales staff while he was out west to attend a charity gala. The e-mail went out Thursday afternoon to employees, informing them of the 9:30 a.m. breakfast the following day, which would take place in the 12th-floor conference room. Bagels, muffins and coffee were provided.
This story first appeared in the October 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Insiders said Sauerberg talked about the company’s direction, in light of budget cuts and a recent shake-up, which included about 60 layoffs in its media division. He tried to lighten up the mood with a joke about how no one was wearing their usual uniform of jeans because he was visiting.
The sales side was mainly the target of Sauerberg’s talk, in which he emphasized that Condé properties should work together to sell and market and be less siloed. He also rolled out a new “flexible” pricing strategy, which would include bundling advertising, a tactic that could make the company more competitive with rival publishers.
When the meeting was opened for questions, the executive was asked if he was worried about the economy and its impact on the company. The president, who had noted that digital and entertainment were key drivers for Condé’s future growth, said he’d “be more worried” if Condé wasn’t changing. Sauerberg stressed that the publisher is “no longer a print company, but we are a modern media company,” which was a bit of a hard sell, as some in the room asked why the firm was so behind on mobile innovation. One employee noted that CNE staffers, who work in the building, were not invited to the meeting.
At the end of the gathering, an assistant inquired how younger staffers might advance in the smaller L.A. office, to which Sauerberg said there may be “something” for him in “Santa Monica.” The reference was lost on many. He could have been referring to The Lucky Group’s office in Santa Monica or perhaps a new acquisition that Condé intends to make, some mused. The executive also said the firm would bring in new employees and stressed “the right people being in place.”
After taking down the young man’s name, Sauerberg was then asked who was in charge of human resources in L.A., to which he replied, “That’s a good question.” A Los Angeles-based h.r. director had been let go about five years ago.
Sauerberg’s rah-rah talk came as the publisher gets set to shift its headquarters to One World Trade Center, and the road map of who goes on what floor keeps getting filled in. Back in New York, Style.com staffers learned that they would move before Thanksgiving to the 29th floor of the building. That space was meant for Lucky magazine before it merged with Beach Mint. Style.com will share a floor with CNE, whose offices have a “start-up vibe,” insiders said, replete with a ping-pong table and exposed brick walls.