Salesforce Billionaire Marc Benioff To Buy ‘Time’ Magazine

Montelent September 18, 2018
Salesforce Billionaire Marc Benioff

Marc Benioff, the billionaire cofounder of cloud computing software firm Salesforce, and his wife, Lynne Benioff, are purchasing Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million. The sale, which Meredith announced on Sunday, comes just eight months after Meredith completed its $2.8 billion purchase of magazine firm Time Inc. The deal is expected to close within the next 30 days, and makes the Benioffs the owners of one of America’s most iconic news magazines.

“The power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all,” Benioff tweeted. “A treasure trove of our history & culture.”

Benioff will not have a day-to-day role in running Time, which Meredith has been trying to sell along with fellow Time Inc. publications Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated. The magazine’s current executive leadership will remain intact, according to Meredith’s press release. and Salesforce will operate separately from the magazine.

“On behalf of the entire Time team, we are very excited to begin this next chapter in our history,” said Timeeditor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal in a statement. “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.”

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The tech founder, who is worth $6.7 billion by Forbes’ estimate, is the latest billionaire to purchase a struggling legacy publication. In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post for $250 million, which at the time was experiencing declining advertising revenue and readership, and earlier this year, pharma billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the Los Angeles Times, which had experienced a tumultuous few years financially and in staff turnover, for $500 million.

Time, too, has been hurt by the changing media environment, in which newsstand sales and advertising revenue—both in print and online—have generally declined. Last year the weekly magazine, which is known for its red-bordered cover and annual “Person of the Year” issue, was forced to cut its circulation by one third, the Wall Street Journal reported last year. Its then-parent company Time Inc., which last year experienced a year-over-year revenue drop of 8%, also laid off 300 staffers. But amid a push focused on digital video, Time has seen its digital audience reach over 30 million monthly unique visitors, according to comScore—up more than 15% over the last three years. It will be up to Benioff to continue to  steer Time in a direction suited for today’s digital media landscape.

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“For over 90 years, Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation,” Tom Harty, Meredith’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We know Timewill continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs.”

While still chairman and CEO of Salesforce, Benioff has invested in dozens of other companies, though most are in the tech and software sphere. These include cybersecurity software company Illumio, which has been valued at over $1 billion, real estate app Compass and hotel software firm Duetto. He has also invested in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s new media platform.

“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,” said the Benioffs in the press release.

Benioff has not yet replied to Forbes‘ request for comment.

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