Condé Nast has already begun a search for a replacement of Phillip Picardi at Teen Vogue and queer-focused digital brand Them, showing it’s still interested in both brands at a time of consolidation for the publisher.
Front-runners for the role at Teen Vogue are said to be internal candidates like Samhita Mukhopadhyay, who just came to the outlet in February but has an editorial pedigree in line with Teen Vogue’s focus on progressive youth. Also being interviewed are candidates from GQ, according to an insider.
There are others from GQ and Teen Vogue being considered to take up the mantle at Them, a brand focused on queer issues that Condé launched only last year under Picardi, but outsiders like David Yi, the young founder of men’s grooming site Very Good Light, as well as an unnamed editor of Bustle are said to be up for the job, too.
Picardi served as chief content officer of both Teen Vogue and Them, so a strong candidate may be put in charge of both again. But Picardi is staying on with Condé through December and will be part of the process of finding his replacement, as well as an upcoming Teen Vogue summit, a sign that there’s little acrimony surrounding his departure.
Nevertheless, Teen Vogue has had its share of troubles during Picardi’s tenure, slowly diminishing its print frequency over the last two years before going digital-only at the end of 2017, shortly before Elaine Welteroth, its editor in chief, exited Condé. Word was she was up for the editor in chief role at Glamour, which was given to Samantha Barry instead. The publisher decided not to replace Welteroth and Picardi became the de facto face of the brand, but never got the title.
Maybe that was what led him to take the editor in chief position at Out magazine, where former editor in chief Aaron Hicklin left at the start of August after 12 years. Picardi posted about his new role on Twitter late Thursday evening and Hicklin congratulated him, saying, “I know you’ll treat it well.”
A desire for the top title aside, it’s a little surprising that Picardi has left Condé, where insiders see him as one of Anna Wintour’s favorites and a voice of relevancy for Teen Vogue, which got political in the run-up to the 2016 election and never looked back as digital traffic climbed. But there’s no denying that Condé might be a difficult place to work right now, as big changes at titles seem to be happening with increasing regularity as the fiscal year comes to a close.
However, Them seems to be having a slow start, originally positioned as part of an “incubator” at Condé for content and new brand ideas focused on Gen Z. The brand seems caught somewhere between a platform attempting to engage directly with its audience and another digital brand with a mix of content and shoppable images. It’s going on a year since its launch and Them only has little more that 122,000 Instagram followers and about 38,000 on Twitter.
Condé is also experimenting with other platforms along the lines of Them, like Iris, focused on Millennial women, and Her Platform, an offshoot of Teen Vogue, focused on street style, neither of which seem to have yet taken off as brands in any meaningful way.
Elsewhere, Condé is looking to consolidate around its most elite brands, and looking to sell off three titles by fall, including W, which editor in chief Stefano Tonchi is working to gather financing for a purchase of, and Brides, which is said to be an acquisition target for Meredith Corp.
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