According to the news report by Bloomberg, the founder of Salesforce.com, Marc Benioff and Lynne Benioff, his wife, are buying the Time Magazine from Meredith Corp. for a cash sum of $190 million. By doing so, they join Jeff Bezos as technology billionaires who are buying up iconic publications.
This transaction now takes the 53-year-old billionaire to a new space – media. This deal is also reminiscent of how Jeff Bezos bought over The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013. That purchase got Bezos a 140-year-old publication that has won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. However, it also made him a target for President Donald Trump’s ire.
Benioff, who has a net worth of $6.5 billion, is the co-Chief Executive Officer of Salesforce.com. However, this deal with Meredith Corp. is not being made with Salesforce.com. Rather it is deal that Benioff and his wife have made personally.
The Benioffs issued a public statement on Sunday with regard to this deal. They stated that they were honored to have become the caretakers of one of the most iconic brands and important media companies in the world. They said that Time Magazine has always reflected the state of the world in a manner that engendered trust and that the publication also reminds everyone that business could be one of the greatest bases for change.
Meredith Corp. is known for its own publication lines such as Better Homes & Gardens, and had acquired Time Magazine when it bought out Time Inc. in January this year. However, almost immediately after its acquisition of one of the world’s most iconic publication companies, Meredith put up Time Inc.’s most prominent brands for sale. This included Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Time.
Meredith, during the announcement of Time’s sale, stated that the other titles would also soon be sold. The reason why these three publications are being sold is because Meredith feels that they cater to an audience that is vastly different from their read base.
This means that advertisers in magazines like Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated would be diametrically different from their current clientele. Meredith focuses on advertisements related to beauty, entertainment, food, fashion, lifestyle, home and parenting. None of these advertisers would be interested in investing in the more political, sports and business news oriented Time Inc. brands.
The Time Magazine deal is slated to close next month, in the next 30 days. The Benioffs stated that they would not be getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the publication and were planning to keep the current management of Time in place.
Benioff has been working on his image as a civic leader by involving himself in personal philanthropic works as well as through corporate sponsorship of public welfare projects in his home base of San Francisco.
Unfortunately, Benioff has also frequently publically criticized President Trump and his policies. And now, with his acquisition of a famous and powerful media publication such as Time, he is also – like Bezos – going to be a target, especially since Time (like him) has published several articles criticizing the President.
Time Magazine, while not as old as The Washington Post, is 95 years old, founded in 1923. In recent years, the news magazine has been faced with declining sales in print ads. However, despite that decline, the publication is has a readership of more than 100 million – both online as well as in print.
Till date, all the Time Magazine special editions – especially the Time Person of the Year edition – are prized publications and eagerly awaited releases.
Meredith’s CEO Tom Harty stated Time was now in good hands with the Benioffs.