By Prarthana Mitra
TIME Magazine which has driven national conversation in the US its heyday, recently found a new taker in Salesforce founder and tech billionaire Marc and his wife Lynne Benioff.
Just eight months after Meredith Corp. purchased Time Inc., the Iowa-based publisher announced that a definitive agreement had been reached with the Benioffs, to sell Time Magazine for $190million. Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal on Sunday touted the sale as a win for the magazine, adding that it would be final within a month.
Time‘s changing hands
The media conglomerate also owns and is reportedly looking to sell three other publications, namely Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated, “to focus on brands serving its core audience of American women.” The company expects to announce agreements for these sales “in the near future.”
According to official sources, the divestment drive follows the decline in advertising revenue and circulation of magazine titles in the digital age. Meredith Corp plans to use the buyout money to repay their net debt of $2.7 billion as of June 30.
Management can make or break content
Although Meredith has assured that the Benioffs “will not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions,” the alarming trend to corporatise media and content has the employees on tenterhooks. While many have expressed applause and even looks forward to Benioff assuming control, there are others who are more sceptical, and have expressed anticipation regarding the takeover.
In many ways, this change of hands is reminiscent of Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of Washington Post, which had created massive outrage after the retail giant bought it for $250 million. The founder and CEO of Amazon came under fire for taking over a 140-old newspaper without any prior experience in the newspaper business. Soon after the purchase, the paywall came up on WP portal, editorial and advertising decisions became mutually inexclusive, and content was streamlined for the online readership. The revenue has never been better. But as the media landscape shifts increasingly towards digital, such administrative changes only makes the death of print media more imminent.
Benioff owns and runs Salesforce.com, a cloud computing company he founded in 1999. On Monday, he informed Wall Street Journal, “We’re investing in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business,” he said, adding that he was quite excited about the purchase. “The power of Time is its unique story telling of the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all,” said Mrs. Benioff.
Although Time Magazine has lost its relevance with time, its provocative covers and annual “Person of the Year” feature continue to be talking points even today.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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