September 13, 2016 Last Updated 9:11 am

Less than three years after the spin-off, clock runs out on first management team at Time Inc.

Rich Battista named president and chief executive officer of Time Inc., while Joe Ripp is moved out to become Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

The magazine publisher Time Inc. today announced that its CEO was being moved up, in order to be moved out. It is the way the ax falls on publishing executives when they fail to deliver the kinds of results that were forecast – everyone else just gets the ax.

Joseph_A_RippJoe Ripp, who has led Time Inc. since its spin off from Time Warner, has been moved to Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, while Rich Battista, who as recently as March of last year was CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, becomes the new president and CEO of the company. Battista was brought in to be President of People and Entertainment Weekly, then after eight months was promoted to President, Entertainment & Sports Group and Video in January of this year, and finally President of Brands in July.

But, Time Inc. remains Time Inc., an unwieldy media company where one part of the company doesn’t know what they other part is doing, and likely will work to undermine, in any case. Insiders tell me that the result is a company that takes one step forward, then two back. Digital initiatives are started, then their teams laid off or resources cut, while another part of the company begins the same initiatives from a different angle.

The company has, however, made some good moves. Its acquisition of Viant was likely a good one, though the fact that the MySpace name was associated with it led to some giggles. The Sports Illustrated group has launched some interesting projects, and has beefed up its video, launching new programming. This, obviously, will be the direction Battista will want to continue to head towards, television and online video.

But Time Inc., like other print publishers, was spun off loaded down with debt, and without the video and digital resources already baked in that would have guaranteed immediate success. The clock was ticking for Ripp from the beginning, and the trade press was eager to kiss up to the big man (frankly, they always are) and were eager to buy the BS coming out of the Manhattan corporate suites. The trade press has beeb far more skeptical of the management moves of non-NYC based spin offs, like Tribune Publishing (now tronc).

In the end, it is the P&L that tells the tale, and while the latest Time Inc. report may have been disappointing, it was not nearly as bad as I would have forecast. But, it was still below forecast, and after three years investors were getting restless.

(Just a thought: Remember back to before the spin-off? The rumor was that Meredith was interested in acquiring the Time Inc. magazine portfolio, but balked because they did not want to deal with the weeklies – and Time Warner not interested in keeping them. Now, however, the monthly magazines that Meredith was so interested in are dying on the vine at Time Inc. Titles like Southern Living or Sunset, which probably looked attractive to Meredith, could be shuttered by a more entertainment video oriented Time Inc. Sounds like a hell of an M&A opportunity to me.)

Here is Time Inc.’s announcement:

NEW YORK, NY – September 13, 2016 — Time Inc. today announced that Rich Battista has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, effective immediately, and is joining the Time Inc. Board of Directors. Battista, who had been Executive Vice President of Time Inc. and President, Brands, succeeds Joe Ripp as CEO. Ripp will continue to lead the Board of Directors as Executive Chairman.

battista-9-16-300Ripp said, “I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to lead this tremendous company for the past three years, and I am excited about its future. We have made real progress in the transformation into a multimedia, multi-platform enterprise. As we look to the next phase of our strategy, Rich is the right choice to execute our plans and deliver shareholder value.”

Battista said, “I am thrilled and honored to lead this great organization and its exceptionally talented employees, particularly as we aggressively move to unlock the enormous potential of our brands across the media landscape. During this dynamic time in media, we are transforming Time Inc. to a cross-media company and are uniquely positioned to leverage our brands, scale, data and insights to significantly grow new lines of business in service to advertisers, marketers and consumers. I am eager to get started and to win.”

John Fahey, Lead Independent Director, said, “On behalf of the board, I want to thank Joe for his work as CEO over the past three years. We are grateful for his leadership and are happy that he will continue with the company as Executive Chairman. Rich is a strong, experienced business builder who has an excellent grasp of our strategy and brands. We are confident that he is the right leader for the future.”

Today, Time Inc. also affirmed pacing expectations for third quarter 2016 total revenues and operating expenses as the Company initially outlined on its second quarter earnings call on August 4th.

Battista, a 25-year veteran of the entertainment and media industry, has significant experience in launching, building and managing large-scale businesses across various media platforms. Prior to joining Time Inc. in 2015, he served as CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, where he led the media and content enterprise by creating, acquiring and investing in businesses and assets across the sports media landscape. Over a period of more than 18 years, Battista held numerous senior management roles at Fox Television, where he was integral in conceiving of, building and operating its significant, multi-billion-dollar portfolio of networks. As CEO of the publicly traded Gemstar-TV Guide International from 2004 to 2008, Battista was the chief architect of the company’s turnaround, which included the revitalization of TV Guide magazine, TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online, as well as enhancement of its technology-driven businesses.

Battista began his career as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated cum laude from Georgetown University, where he has served on the Board of Regents and is Founder and Chairman of the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance, an alumni network of more than 4,500 entertainment and media professionals.

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