Its name is off the building, its corporate Twitter account is down and Time Inc. is officially a part of Meredith Corp., turning it overnight into one of the biggest media companies in the U.S.
In a note to clients and business partners commemorating the first day of Time Inc.’s operation under its new owner, Jon Werther, Meredith’s president of national media, welcomed them to “the new Meredith,” boasting the company’s new base of 200 million consumers and an arsenal of brands that “have been part of the fabric of our lives for generations.”
Werther said Meredith, before best-known as an owner of local television stations and print titles such as Better Homes & Gardens, now has a combined readership of 135 million and 165 million unique visitors online every month. The executive seemed eager to position Meredith as a tech-forward company brimming with data opportunities.
“Our first-party data from these 200 million direct-consumer relationships, together with our now even deeper editorial insights, will enable us to uniquely profile our consumers’ interests and dynamic needs,” he said in his note. “This will allow us to continue to predict trends and identify actionable insights that drive not only your media and targeting decisions, but also your product development and content strategies.”
Time employees seem less enthused. Of the Wednesday night removal of the Time signage at the company’s New York headquarters, Martin Gee, senior art director at Time magazine, was glib on Twitter. He posted a photo of the building facade writing: “end of an era/ can i have the ‘M.’”
Michal Lev-Ram, a senior reporter at Fortune, another Time Inc. publication, wrote Tuesday about her last expense report going to Time Inc. “Never thought submitting an expense report would be an emotional experience. But this one kinda was.”
Stephanie Fierman, chief marketing officer at marketing agency MediaCom, balked at Meredith’s decision to rebrand the company under that name while abandoning the better-known Time Inc. moniker.
“I’ve been informed that today is ‘Day 1’ for the new @MeredithCorp. That’s the Meredith that decided to stick with ‘Meredith’ and not one of the top most prestigious news organizations in history, #TimeInc. Chemical was smart enough to buy Chase…and go with ‘Chase.’ I’m sick.”
Of the decision to rename the company and take down the signage, a Meredith spokesman said “that’s just how it works.”
Tributes to Time have been pouring in on Instagram as well, nearly all of which feature the Time Inc. signage that is now gone.
A graphic designer for Time, Emily Zabaleta, went on Instagram to say how difficult the last year (one of frequent layoffs) has been at the company and posted a copy of a “prospectus” for a then-unnamed Life magazine written by Time’s founder Henry Luce.
As for an expected reduction in staff, Meredith’s spokesman said “no decisions have been made yet.”
He added that staffers coming into the now-former Time Inc. building on Thursday were greeted in the lobby by Steve Lacy and Tom Harty, Meredith’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, respectively. About 50 other executives are said to be roaming the building in an attempt to meet the staff. Meredith is planning to move from its Midtown office into the former Time building in downtown Manhattan by the end of the year.
But there have already been staff reductions related to the sale of a handful of titles that Time Inc. put on the block before being acquired. Essence was purchased at the start of the year for an undisclosed sum by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of beauty company Sundial Brands, as was Sunset magazine, which was purchased by private equity fund Regent, who’s founder Michael Reinstein has cited his personal attachment to the title in prompting the investment. The company also sold SI Play, an app related to Sports Illustrated, to NBC Sports.
Meredith’s spokesman said two other titles, Time U.K. and Golf Magazine, are “very close” to being purchased by individual entities, and that “there has been a lot of inbound interest” in several other titles since Meredith came into the Time Inc. picture again last year.
“We’re now in the process of a full portfolio review, where we’re looking at all the Time brands, as well as our current brands, and figuring out what makes sense for the company going forward,” the spokesman said.
The review is expected to be done by midspring, and later in the year Meredith expects to have a “relaunch” of sorts. “We want to be clear to the advertising market that this is what we have and this is what were selling,” the spokesman said.
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