Another storied journalism brand has ended up in the hands of a Silicon Valley mogul.
Marc Benioff, co-CEO and co-founder of Salesforce.com, and his wife, Lynne, are the new owners of Time magazine. The couple is paying $190 million in cash for the 95-year-old newsmagazine, which currently has 2 million subscribers (less than half of its peak circulation).
“The power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all,” Marc Benioff wrote in Twitter posts on Sunday evening. “A treasure trove of our history & culture. We have deep respect for their organization & honored to be stewards of this iconic brand.”
In March, Meredith — after completing the $1.85 billion acquisition of Time Inc. — said it was shopping Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Money. The publishing and media company also disclosed plans to lay off 1,200 employees.
According to Meredith, the sale of Time to the Benioffs is expected to close in the next 30 days.
The Benioffs’ purchase of Time magazine is fully separate from Salesforce.com, which sells services to help companies manage sales and customer service. “Mr. and Mrs. Benioff will not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, which will continue to be led by Time’s current executive leadership team,” Meredith said in announcing the deal Sunday.
It’s the latest case of tech money stepping in to take stewardship of a journalism franchise. In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post and last year Laurene Powell Jobs, who was married to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, bought a majority stake in The Atlantic.
“The Benioffs have a profound commitment to community and to finding solutions to some of society’s most complex problems, whether it’s building children’s hospitals or tackling homelessness,” Time editor Edward Felsenthal wrote in a note to staffers Sunday, published on Time’s website. “They are also committed, as Time is, to the sharing and debating of competing ideas and to journalism of the highest quality.”
According to Time, it has an audience of 100 million worldwide and a video business that is on pace to deliver nearly 2 billion streams in 2018.
Meredith said it plans to use proceeds from sale of Time mag to pay down debt. The company said it anticipates reducing its debt by $1 billion during fiscal 2019; it forecasts generating $1 billion of EBITDA and having net debt below $2 billion by the end of fiscal 2020.