Mag Turnover Points to Digital Future

The executive turnover and resignations of the last two weeks are signs of the times--evidence of a sea change in the magazine business. Print's primacy is fading, and digital is becoming the main focus of magazine publishers. Much of the re-staffing has come about as part of natural turnover--but there also some white-knuckle voluntary "resignations" under duress.

The departure of Jack Kliger from his post as CEO of Hachette Filipacchi was long expected after almost a decade at the job, but it also allows parent company Lagardere to accelerate the transition to digital distribution. Lagardere has made digital growth its top priority, instituting a "Lagardere 2009" plan that calls for 10% of total revenues to be derived from digital channels by next year. Hachette's new CEO, Alain Lemarchand, has been a key player in implementing the plan from Lagardere's corporate headquarters in Paris.

Reed Phillips III, a managing partner with investment bank DeSilva + Phillips, said the appointment of Lemarchand was "part of a natural progression, when you have someone like Jack Kliger retiring."

However, some other moves by Hachette hint that management is dissatisfied with the growth rate in digital revenues. In March, Hachette laid off 15 staffers from its interactive division to be replaced with new hires possessing "a new skill set," in the company's words. Subsequently, Hachette said it will relaunch all of its Web sites by the end of 2008, to include more service and community features.

Hearst has also seen some turnover, including the fairly mysterious departure of President-CEO Victor Ganzi last week, with an official statement citing "irreconcilable differences" but giving no details. Hearst, a privately held company, is circumspect about its internal workings, but Ganzi's departure may also be part of a digital shakeup.

In February, Pamela Raley left Hearst Magazines Digital Media, where she led sales and marketing, after just over a year with the company. She was replaced by Kristine Welker, previously the founding publisher of CosmoGirl, where she oversaw digital initiatives, including text-to-buy opportunities and online games.

Also in February, Lisa Ryan Howard replaced Jason R. Krebs as vice president of online sales for Conde Nast Interactive. Krebs also had a relatively brief tenure of two years. Subsequently, last week it was revealed that Mark Jarecke, the creative director of CondeNet, is leaving, although no reason was given. Jarecke began his tenure with Conde Nast in 2000 as the art director for Style.com, before being promoted to creative director of CondeNet in 2003. In that role, he helped lead the redesign of Epicurious and the creation of Men.style.com.

Although it's hard to get advertising revenue figures for privately held magazine publishers, an industry overview by PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts digital ad revenues of around $560 million for consumer magazines in 2008. This would reflect growth of 63% over 2007's $342 million--but the 2008 figures still represent just 4% of total ad revenues.
Next story loading loading..