We're not exactly sure how Randall Rothenberg got the nickname R2. It's probably just the rrrrrresonance of his initials, but we like to think it's something more - something exponential. Because in a world of arithmetic thinkers, Rothenberg has been a leading proponent of the exponent. And that's not just because of his tendency to expound on what's meaningful and important, but because when he does, it usually produces multiplicative effects. In fact, we always thought his moniker should be R3, or some magnitude of power well beyond that.
But we shall soon see just how powerful Rothenberg truly is. As the new chief digital officer of the oldest portion of the world's largest media company, Rothenberg has nothing but Time, and as we all know, that could well be running out. It's not the quality of Time Inc.'s content, the stature of its brands, or its relevance to the digital world. If you ask us, there never was a time more in need of the perspectives and professionalism of Time Inc.'s editors. The company's problems are its business models, and the fact that as much as they've adapted to the digital age, they are fundamentally still magazine publishing models.
Okay, so Sports Illustrated may have traded in football phone subscription premiums for mobile swimsuit calendar downloads, but the real power of Time Inc.'s titles has always been their ability to shape our collective sensibility - to contextualize what is important, whether it is in the worlds of sports, news, finance, or pop culture. The problem isn't the importance or quality of its content. It's that people now have far too many other alternatives to rely on magazines, whether they are published in gravure quality print, or downloaded over a 4G network to a tablet device near you.
So we will soon find out just how powerful R2 truly is, and whether he can muster all the digital knowledge he has spent the past three years mastering at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and apply it in a way that multiplies the power of Time in a way that only Rothenberg, or Einstein, would be able to understand. We're not exactly sure what that formula will look like, but if you can take the mass of Time Inc.'s reach and multiply it by the speed of Rothenberg's thinking -- squared -- it no doubt will produce considerable energy. Relatively speaking, that is.