The situation at Time Inc. is looking increasingly chaotic. Tuesday morning brought news that Randall Rothenberg will leave Time Inc. and return to his previous position leading the Interactive Advertising Bureau. That's just a month with the leading magazine publisher, where he served briefly as executive vice president and chief digital officer.
No reason was given for Rothenberg's sudden departure from Time Inc., but chances are it has something to do with the equally abrupt departure of president and CEO Jack Griffin last week, after just five months on the job.
The company was just as opaque about the reasons for Griffin's unexpected exit, merely remarking in an official statement: "His leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner" -- which is usually code for incompatible personal clashes among top management.
Griffin's remarks (while equally vague) definitely hinted that the departure was neither amicable or voluntary on his part. He noted, for example, that he had received the "consistent and documented acclaim of Time Warner's senior management" for his performance -- an assertion that some observers say lays the groundwork for a possible lawsuit demanding damages for wrongful termination.
As one of Griffin's big-name hires, Time Inc. evidently hoped Rothenberg would stay, according to a memo to employees signed by three top execs, who praised his expertise. They said Time Inc. will work even more closely with IAB following his return.
For its part, the IAB is clearly pleased with the return of Rothenberg, who presided over the organization's key period of growth over the last four years -- including expanding membership, more leadership in areas like industry standards and best practices, and intensive lobbying on the industry's behalf on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.