Meredith Corporation Have Sold the 95-Year-Old Mass Media Group to Marc and Lynne Benioff
Will this be the world’s biggest Marketing Technology-Print merger?
As the print versus digital divide widens, America woke up to the exciting news from the marketing technology landscape. Meredith’s TIME magazine, one of America’s most iconic news magazines, will now be a part of Marc Benioff’s stable. Just days ahead of the biggest and the most trailblazing marketing technology event on the planet – Dreamforce, Salesforce owner Marc Benioff has bought Meredith’s Time Inc. for $190 million. The news comes within a year of Meredith’s purchase of the magazine for $2.8 billion.
The announcement by Meredith said that the Benioffs would not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions at Time.
In an official press release, Meredith has confirmed the sale of the news magazines to Marc and Lynne Benioff for $190 million in cash. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close within 30 days. Marc Benioff is one of the four co-founders of the #1 CRM company, Salesforce. Meredith had completed the purchase of Time along with other publications of Time Inc. earlier this year.
Now, Marc Benioff could well control the Top 100 most influential names on the planet. Rewind to 1989, when the Time-Warner merger saw one of the ugliest battles, initiated by Paramount Communications (formerly Gulf+Western) to own the iconic news magazine. Since then ‘TIME’ has truly changed. Now, it’s owned by Benioff.
Post this acquisition announcement, Marc Benioff tweeted,
The power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all. A treasure trove of our history & culture. We have deep respect for their organization & honored to be stewards of this iconic brand. https://t.co/TsbcXhO1OU
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) September 16, 2018
According to sources, The Benioffs are purchasing Time personally, and the transaction is unrelated to Salesforce.com, where Benioff is chairman and co-CEO and co-founder. The announcement by Meredith said that the Benioffs would not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions at Time. Those decisions will continue to be made by Time’s current executive leadership team, the announcement said.
TIME is a global, breaking news multimedia brand that reaches a combined audience of more than 100 million readers in print and online, including over 50 million digital visitors and 40 million social followers each month. An essential destination for reporting on the people, places, and issues that matter, TIME captures the events that shape our lives through exceptional reporting, writing and photography. TIME’s major franchises include the TIME 100 Most Influential People, Person of the Year, Best Inventions, Genius Companies, World’s Greatest Places, and more.
Meredith President and CEO Tom Harty, said, “We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the TIME brand.”
— Edward Felsenthal (@efelsenthal) September 17, 2018
Tom added, “For over 90 years, TIME has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation. We know TIME will continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs. We thank the TIME team for its ongoing hard work and passionate commitment.”
Meredith acquired TIME as part of its purchase of Time Inc., which closed on 31 January 2018. Shortly thereafter, Meredith announced it was selling Time Inc.’s news and sports brands – TIME, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and MONEY – to focus on brands serving its core audience of American women. Meredith expects to announce agreements for the remaining asset sales in the near future.
“We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” said the Benioffs.
They continued, “TIME has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.”
TIME Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal, said, “On behalf of the entire TIME team, we are very excited to begin this next chapter in our history. We can’t imagine better stewards for TIME than Marc and Lynne Benioff. The team is inspired by their commitment to high-quality journalism and by their confidence in the work we have done to transform and expand the brand in new directions.”
As part of the transaction, Meredith will provide short-term business continuity services and has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Benioffs to provide services such as consumer marketing, subscription fulfillment, paper purchasing, and printing. Meredith will also be able to include the TIME brand in large corporate advertising buys.
Meredith plans to use proceeds from the transaction to pare down debt. Meredith expects to reduce its debt by $1 billion during fiscal 2019. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. served as financial advisor to Meredith and Cooley LLP served as legal advisor. BDT & Company served as financial advisor to the Benioffs and Goodwin Procter LLP served as legal advisor.
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