PERHAPS HE WANTED A VIEW OF THE PARK: It’s raiding season among magazine companies, and the latest to be poached is David Carey, who’s giving up his post as group president of Condé Nast and the environs of Times Square to head up Eighth Avenue and become president of Hearst Magazines. Carey long had been viewed as a potential heir apparent to Condé Nast chief executive officer Chuck Townsend, but now he’ll compete head-to-head with Townsend as he steps in for Cathie Black, who is being bumped up to chairman of the magazine division.

Carey’s appointment is a bit of a coming home — he began his career at Hearst, where he eventually served as founding publisher of SmartMoney.

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“This is an absolutely plum assignment, with the scale and resources available at Hearst,” Carey told WWD. “With the domestic and international businesses, the book unit and now the push into the marketing services area.” He added that Hearst Corp. ceo Frank Bennack has challenged Carey and others to change the definition of what the media company of the future is. And Black e-mailed from the airport, noting that she will be doing “the same as before, but more!”

“I will work with Frank, David and our team, here and internationally, on acquisitions, strategy, new magazine launches, iCrossing opportunities, digital expansion, e-editions, etc.,” Black added.

There was some speculation Black’s promotion could put her in line to eventually take over for Bennack, who is 77 and stepped in a few years ago to take back the reins from Victor Ganzi. But well-placed sources said the likelier outcome is that Carey’s appointment paves the way for a more gentle exit in a few year’s time for 66-year-old Black, given the perception of Hearst as an “all-boys club” that might find it difficult to tap a woman as group ceo (some might recall that Black already was passed over for the job when it was looking for a successor to Ganzi and Bennack swooped in instead).

Meanwhile, the main focus following Carey’s appointment shifted to Michael Clinton, executive vice president, chief marketing officer and publishing director, who long has been expected to take over for Black. In press release parlance, Clinton was “promoted” to president, marketing and publishing director of the magazine division. His appointment set tongues wagging about his future at Hearst and whether he would stick around over the long haul to work under Carey, to whom he now reports.

Back at Condé, Townsend downplayed Carey’s departure — the third resignation of a senior executive on the business side in the last six months (for those not keeping score, the others were Richard Beckman and Tom Florio). After hitting the big time by turning around The New Yorker and making it profitable and then overseeing the ill-fated launch of Condé Nast Portfolio, which shuttered after two years at a reported cost of $100 million, Carey lately had overseen a grab bag of titles that included the high-profile Wired, the Golf Digest publications and Condé Nast Traveler. He will not be replaced as group president. “The publishing executives at Condé Nast represent the top talent in the industry,” Townsend said. “Through the recession, our group presidents and publishing directors provided a level of oversight and support that was advantageous in optimizing our business results. But it was becoming clear that this was an additional layer that we didn’t necessarily require for all of our brands. I am confident we have the right team in place for continued success and innovation.”

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