Peter Kafka

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New Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin Now Former Time Inc. CEO

Time Warner is pushing out the head of its Time Inc. publishing unit after just months on the job.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, who hired former Meredith magazine head Jack Griffin in August, has now let him go. “I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner,” Bewkes writes in a companywide memo.

Bewkes hasn’t announced a replacement, and says that in the interim, a troika of Time Inc executives — which notably includes Time Inc. editorial head John Huey — will run the business and report to him.

Griffin lasted less than six months on the job, so there’s going to be a lot of well-deserved scrutiny into Bewkes’ decisions to hire, then fire him so quickly: Does Bewkes get credit for getting rid of Griffin early, or penalized for bringing him aboard in the first place? Or both?

The early word from Time Warner and Time Inc. employees is that Griffin’s employees were extremely unhappy under his tenure, and that the company was facing the possibility of losing valued employees.

One example of a move that didn’t win him any fans at the tradition-bound publisher: Placing his name first on the masthead of its monthly magazines — and requiring weekly magazines, which hadn’t traditionally run mastheads, to start publishing them.

The move supposedly cost Time Inc. millions in lost ad revenue, but it’s hard to see that being a firing offense; I note it only because it was one of the first complaints I heard about Griffin after the news broke this evening.

More worrisome: One Time Inc. source notes that the company distributes annual bonuses in March, suggesting that the move was made now in order to persuade disgruntled workers from bolting in a few weeks.

Here’s the memo.

To:                   Time Inc. Colleagues

From:               Jeff Bewkes

Subject:            Jack Griffin

I regret to inform you that Jack Griffin is leaving his position as Chairman and CEO of Time Inc. Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner.

Until a permanent successor is identified, Time Inc. will be led by an experienced interim management committee, reporting directly to me, composed of Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey. You will be hearing from them within the next several days regarding their plans during this transitional period.

This company and its executive team have made many important advances in the last few years. Throughout, you have distinguished yourselves with professionalism and dedication to your craft, and as a result of that hard work the company’s momentum has been restored.

With our deep and talented pool of employees, I’m confident that during this transitional period Time Inc. will continue to grow and prosper, and that you will continue the brilliant work that has defined our company.

Jeff


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