Time Inc., one of the nation’s oldest and largest publishers of magazines, is expected to lay off a significant number of its employees as it gears up for a spin off from parent Time Warner and becomes its own publicly traded company.
In a memo sent to staffers Tuesday, Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp said the company would begin a “restructuring process” aimed at ridding itself of excess management. “We need to dissolve the complex matrixed organization created several years ago, remove layers that slow us down and free up investment dollars to deploy in growth areas,” said Ripp, who was named chief executive of the unit in September.
A Time Inc. spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of staffers potentially involved on the areas of the company from which they were likely to come. In a published report, The New York Post suggested the number could be as high as 500.
Ripp is also ripping apart Time Inc. corporate structure, which has for several years based its operating units around clusters of reader topics. People, Time, Sports illustrated and Fortune, for example, were all placed in different units, each with its own operating team. Rather than continue under that set up, Ripp said Time Inc. would place its entire portfolio of publications under two executives, Evelyn Webster and Todd Larsen.
Webster will supervise many of the company’s lifestyle titles, including All You, Black Ink, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Departures, Essence, Food & Wine, Health, InStyle, People StyleWatch, People en Español, Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset, This Old House, Travel + Leisure, and IPC. Many of her titles were recently brought under Time Inc.’s aegis in late 2013, when the company purchased control of a passel of luxury-focused titles from American Express. Larsen will manage the company’s newsier titles, including heavyweights like People, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money as well as CNNMoney, Golf, SI for Kids, Time for Kids and GEx in Mexico.
“ A single Time Inc. portfolio will give us more operational flexibility, speed decision-making and spur the development of new cross-brand products and revenue streams to help stabilize and grow our top-line revenues,” Ripp said in the memo.
At least two publishing veterans will be leaving the company in the wake of the announcement: David Geithner, who was head of the operating unit set up around People and other lifestyle magazines; and Ed Kelly, who had been chief executive of the magazines operated by American Express.
Mark Ford, who had been head of the unit that included Sports Illustrated and related publications, was named exec veep of advertising sales for Time Inc.
Ripp has not been shy about his desire to rip out longstanding traditions at Time Inc. in favor of creating a leaner, more flexible business culture. In October, he reversed a longstanding separation of the company’s editorial and business operations, setting editors under the supervision of business managers. Previously, editors reported to a chief editorial executive. Ripp also brought back Norm Pearlstine, a former Time Inc. senior editorial manager and named him chief content officer of the company.
“When we enter the public markets in a few short months, our success will depend on how investors view the momentum we are generating at the new Time Inc. We will be judged on our ability to leverage our entire portfolio, to innovate, to make smart investments and to create exciting opportunities for our advertising partners across our company,” Ripp said in the memo. “The performance of print and individual brands will always be important, but Wall Street’s focus will be on the performance of Time Inc. and on our ability to grow beyond print, embracing new technologies, new products, new markets, and new customers. ”