Edward Felsenthal is keeping his title of editor in chief of Time and adding the title of chief executive officer as the magazine moves into the hands of billionaire Marc Benioff.
Felsenthal has been in the lead editor’s role for little more than a year and his remaining in the position after Meredith Corp.’s recent cash sale of Time to Benioff for $190 million seemed assured as he was out in front talking about the deal and what it means for the 95-year-old magazine’s future. But a confirmation of his position under Benioff’s recently closed ownership cements his position and comes with the added title of ceo, the first dedicated one the magazine has ever had.
“We are thrilled Edward will continue his outstanding leadership of Time,” Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, who now serve as co-chairs of the title, wrote in a joint statement. “Under Edward’s leadership, the Time team has achieved strong profitability, created new products and now reaches the largest audience in its history, 100 million people around the world.”
Felsenthal, a veteran of news media, said he’s “honored” to continue leading the magazine and alluded to the title’s “ambitions in both the near- and long-term future.” He came to Time about five years ago as editor of the title’s digital operation and before that served as founding executive editor of The Daily Beast, where he led the digital news operation. Previously, Felsenthal was a Wall Street Journal reporter for 15 years and eventually became deputy managing editor there.
His tenure at Time has been marked by change, as the storied title reorganized and downsized in the face of digital disruption, was sold to Meredith, and then as quickly was put up for sale again after some further downsizing. But finding a buyer in Benioff seems to be as good an outcome as any magazine could hope for. The billionaire founder of cloud computing company Salesforce has said he intends to be hands off in the editorial operations of Time, but wants to invest in its growth, expanding digital, video and events. Time is also set to continue printing its magazine.
When the sale to Benioff was revealed about six weeks ago, Felsenthal was adamant that print “is very profitable for us and very much a part of our future.” He explained that Time is focused on consumer revenue and scale around that, as well as around advertising. “We’ll continue to manage print and that will remain strong and profitable for a good long while,” he said. Felsenthal also noted that Time is set to “be doing a good bit of hiring” in the coming months while it looks for and moves into a new base of operations and sets up as an independent title.
But true independence is still a ways off, as Benioff’s deal with Meredith includes a multiyear arrangement for the latter to continue printing and distributing the magazine, taking care of what would surely be a costly need for media infrastructure that Benioff, new to media ownership, lacks. The deal includes “short-term business continuity services” and a longer-term partnership on consumer marketing and sales, with Meredith also retaining the ability to include Time in corporate advertising buys.
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