The New York Times Company announced that COO Meredith Kopit Levien, who has overseen its digital businesses for the last three years, will succeed Mark Thompson as president and CEO effective Sept. 8.
Kopit Levien, 49, will become the youngest chief exec of the media and publishing company. She also will join the New York Times Company’s board, while Thompson will depart as an officer and director of the company.
Thompson, who is 62, joined the New York Times Company as CEO in 2012. Since then, the company boosted digital-only subscribers to 5 million as of Q1 2020 (up 1.4 million year over year) and doubled the company’s digital revenue in the past five years to $800.8 million in 2019. The British exec previously had served as director general of the BBC.
“I’ve chosen this moment to step down because we have achieved everything I set out to do when I joined The Times Company eight years ago,” Thompson said in a statement.
Kopit Levien joined the Times Company in August 2013 as head of advertising and rose through the ranks to assume the role of chief operating officer in June 2017 to oversee digital products and operations.
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The board unanimously agreed on Kopit Levien’s appointment as CEO, according to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, who led the succession planning committee alongside presiding director Brian McAndrews.
Sulzberger said in a statement announcing Kopit Levien’s appointment that she “has successfully led much of our company’s most important work — from reimagining our advertising business to driving our historic subscription growth to fostering a culture of product innovation. She’s been Mark Thompson’s closest partner over the past seven years and will continue to build on his remarkable legacy.”
Commenting on her appointment, Kopit Levien said, “It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead The New York Times. I see a big opportunity to expand journalism’s role in the lives of millions more people around the world, and to invest in product and technology innovation that engages our readers and grows our business.”
In 2016, Kopit Levien was named in a discrimination lawsuit filed two women who worked in the New York Times’ advertising department. The suit, which also named Thompson as a defendant, alleged the company “has been engaging in deplorable discrimination.” Kopit Levien had “made it very clear that she was looking for a very particular work force, one that was filled with ‘fresh faces,’ i.e., younger employees without families, and who were white,” the Times’ staffers lawsuit said. Kopit Levien had said the litigation was “without merit”; the Times Company settled the suit last year and said it “does not admit to any liability.”
Before joining The Times, Kopit Levien spent more than five years at Forbes, where she held various roles, including publisher and chief revenue officer. She began her career at the Advisory Board Co. in Washington, D.C. and later joined the Advisory Board’s owner and founder at The Atlantic. Kopit Levien, an executive committee member of the board of the Ad Council, received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Virginia.