Salesforce billionaire Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne have purchased struggling Time magazine for $190 million. From The Wall Street Journal:

In an interview, Mr. Benioff said, “We’re investing in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business. That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family.”

The Benioffs are optimistic about Time’s large audience and growing video business. “The power of Time is its unique story telling of the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all,” said Mrs. Benioff.

Still, the couple will be taking over a publication whose business has been hammered from ongoing declines in print advertising and newsstand sales. Many magazines have struggled to transition into digital-first businesses as traditional sources of revenue have eroded. The Benioffs said they won’t have a role in day-to-day operations of the magazine or journalistic decisions. Mr. Benioff said the family doesn’t plan to acquire any other magazine titles from Meredith.

The Benioffs are the latest wealthy people from the tech world to buy a traditional news publication. In 2013, Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Inc., bought the Washington Post. And last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, the wife of the late Steve Jobs, acquired a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine via her organization, the Emerson Collective.

As of now, Meredith owns Time along with other publications like Better Home and Gardens. Chief Content Officer of the Time brands Alan Murray said he chose the Benioffs after meetings with dozens of other interested people. From The New York Times:

Alan Murray, the chief content officer of the Time Inc. brands at Meredith, said that, after dozens of meetings with suitors — “I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them,” he said — the Benioffs emerged as the best fit, willing to put journalistic integrity ahead of corporate gains.

“They’re not looking for private-equity returns,” Mr. Murray said, adding that the couple would help the title “further make the transition into the digital world, but don’t want to get involved” in editorial decisions.

Meredith had fended off offers from multiple suitors, including a more than $325 million offer from David J. Pecker, a confidant of President Trump and chief executive of American Media Inc., publisher of The National Enquirer, to purchase three Time Inc. titles.

In a statement, the Des Moines-based Meredith echoed that Time would maintain editorial independence, and made it clear that the deal had nothing to do with Salesforce.

“The Benioffs are purchasing Time personally and the transaction is unrelated to, where Mr. Benioff is chairman, co-C.E.O. and founder,” Meredith said in its release.

Benioff made his fortune with Salesforce, which is “a cloud software company whose products are for businesses,” similar to products from Oracle and Microsoft. Forbes estimated his fortune at $6 billion.

Benioff is famous in San Francisco and known for his social activism. He has spoken out “against state efforts to restrict gay rights.” This venture will probably propel him into the national spotlight.

The duo will not have involvement in the day-to-day operations at Time.


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