In what could be a sign of uncertainty about the pending acquisition of Meredith Corp.’s magazine division by IAC/Interactive Corp.’s Dotdash media unit, Meredith on Friday was forced to walk back a letter indicating that some Des Moines jobs would be lost as a result.
The Des Moines Register reported on Saturday that Kevin Redig, Meredith's sales tax manager, asked the Iowa Economic Development Authority in an Oct. 28 letter to amend a contract to reflect the company is being sold. Under the contract with the state, Meredith is required to create and maintain 41 jobs.
Redig wrote the pending sale of the Meredith broadcasting business would have "minimal impact" on the number of employees in Iowa. But the letter added the publishing unit’s sale to Dotdash will result in “some losses at the Des Moines office, due to the acquisition."
When the Register reached out to Meredith to clarity, the company filed a second letter on Nov. 19.
"The original letter was submitted by an employee who did not get appropriate approvals from those involved with the details of the transactions Meredith is undertaking," wrote Mike Lovell, executive director of corporate communications, adding Meredith doesn't expect to lose employees as it becomes part of New York-based Dotdash. Regarding the magazine-media unit, Lovell said in the letter: "Des Moines will continue to serve as an important operational hub." Meredith has 870 people in Des Moines and another 57 positions open, he said.
Still, without the presence of an independent Meredith Corp., Des Moines seems like an unlikely outpost for a media industry largely based in New York or the West Coast.
The $2.7 billion IAC-Dotdash acquisition is the largest and most significant magazine-media related deal since 2018, when Time Inc. was sold to Meredith, creating one of the largest magazine-media companies in the world.
Meredith subsequently sold off three marquee brands — Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune. The fact that Meredith itself is being sold is an indication of the difficult business conditions for media brands with a significant print legacy. Just last week, speculation surfaced about the fate of the once invincible People magazine in the Dotdash stable. People alone had nearly $1 billion in revenue just 10 years ago, and even now retains an enormous audience.
But Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel acknowledged that neither People nor Entertainment Weekly seem like a logical fit at Dotdash because they’re not “intent-driven.”