December 13, 2016 Last Updated 11:29 am

Mark Ford to step down as Chief Revenue Officer at Time Inc.

Mark Ellis, President & COO, Sales and Marketing, is also leaving the company effective March 1, as Brad Elders moves from President of Digital Sales to the CRO role

The rumors of a possible sale continue to swirl around Time Inc., and as this happens there continues to be staff and management changes. I’ve heard of some head-scratching changes that have nothing to do sound logic but reek of desperation. Meanwhile, changes in the executive suites are coming now, as well.

The announcement below talks about two of them: Mark Ford, who has spent 32 years at Time Inc, is stepping down as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, staying on as an advisor (probably as a way to pay for his parachute); and Mark Ellis, President & COO, Sales and Marketing, will be leaving come March 1. Brad Elders, President of Digital Sales, will take over as CRO. Elders came to Time Inc. from AOL this spring to be Group Publisher Sports Illustrated Group, but within six months was named President of Digital Sales.

Time Inc. stock fell in value in late July and again in October as investors lost confidence in the company. But the stock rebounded in November when rumors began to swirl of a sale, or at least asset sales. The stock is currently trading north of $17.50 for the first time since last fall.

For new CEO Rich Battista, one option may be to get backing for a management buyout where the purchase is partially paid for through asset sales, letting Hearst and Meredith pick off certain titles, and retaining only those that fit into his vision for the new company. If that were to occur, it is likely that we would soon start referring to Time Inc. as a publisher, the same way McGraw-Hill is no longer seen as publisher but as a financial services company.

Here is Time Inc.’s announcement of the executive management changes:

NEW YORK, NY – December 13, 2016 –– Today, Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista announced that Mark Ford will step down as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer effective January 9, 2017. Ford will assume the new role of EVP and Senior Strategic Sales Advisor, also reporting to Battista. Brad Elders, President of Digital Sales, will succeed Ford as EVP and Chief Revenue Officer, reporting to Battista. In addition, Mark Ellis, President & COO, Sales and Marketing has decided to leave the company effective March 1, 2017.

“Mark Ford has had an illustrious 32 year career at Time Inc. with a track record of driving revenue and innovation for some of our biggest brands. His relationships in the business are unparalleled, and his understanding of the marketplace was a driving force behind the company’s recent sales transformation and new go-to-market strategy,” Battista said. “I look forward to working with Mark in this new role and for him to continue to use his deep experience and client relationships to help grow our business.”

Ford commented, “I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to play a variety of leadership roles during my more than three decades with the company. Now after all of the strides we’ve made this year in better aligning the sales force with the market and setting the team up for even greater success, I feel like it is a good time to pass the baton to Brad. He is the right leader, and it’s the right time for him to take the sales organization to the next level. I look forward to working closely with Rich and Brad on major enterprise-wide sales partnerships.”

Elders will oversee Time Inc.’s North American sales organization, including the Category, Brand and Digital sales teams. In addition, Elders will oversee INVNT, Time Inc.’s global brand communications and live media agency, and Media Networks Inc., which develops new techniques in targeted media, native advertising and branded content. He will also serve on the board of Viant, Time Inc.’s people-based data targeting company.

Battista noted: “Brad is an accomplished, highly-respected and versatile sales leader with a proven track record of success in digital sales and marketing, including native content, video and data/targeting – major growth areas for Time Inc. Since joining us earlier this year, Brad has demonstrated strong strategic leadership and vision. He is one of the most innovative and effective sales executives in our industry, and I am excited about his taking on this critical role at this pivotal moment.”

Elders commented, “Time Inc.’s high-quality content and enormous scale, combined with our rich data and insights, create an unmatched point of difference in the industry. I couldn’t be more excited to lead this team as we build on the existing ad products and offerings we have in place across all platforms, and all of the success Mark has led and the team has achieved.”

Elders joined Time Inc. in April 2016 as Group Publisher of Sports Illustrated Group before becoming President of Digital Sales in July. He previously was at AOL, where he most recently was General Manager of Partner Studio. Prior to that, Elders served as SVP of Sales, overseeing AOL’s east region. Throughout his career, Elders has held senior positions at various media companies and start-ups, such as Function(x), TidalTV and Joost.

Regarding Mark Ellis’ decision to leave, Battista said, “Mark Ellis’ digital expertise from his time at AOL and Yahoo! helped accelerate our digital sales and marketing efforts. He has done an excellent job partnering with Mark Ford to transition our sales and marketing teams, and I am grateful that he has agreed to stay for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition.”

Ellis commented, “I am proud of the work we’ve accomplished in the two and a half years I have been here, realigning the sales force, implementing new training, tools and insights. After a couple of productive years of transition, all while commuting from Detroit, I feel now is the time for me to pursue the next chapter of my career.”

Time Inc.’s digital advertising revenue increased 63% in the third quarter. Native advertising is a significant growth area for the company, with native revenue on pace to nearly double in 2016 vs. 2015.

Time Inc. occupies a differentiated space in the media and advertising world by bringing together its premium content, large audiences, native capabilities, and advanced targeting through Viant’s proprietary data and targeting. This combination offers end-to-end solutions for marketers through the path to purchase cycle, along with unique ROI measurement capabilities.

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