The billionaire cofounder of cloud computing software firm Salesforce, Marc Benioff, and his wife Lynne Benioff is acquiring Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million. As per Meredith’s announcement on Sunday, the deal came just eight months after the publishing giant completed its $2.8 billion purchase of magazine firm Time Inc. The deal which is expected to be sealed within the next 30 days will make Benioffs the proprietors of one of America’s most prestigious news magazines.
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.”
However, Marc Benioff will not be involved in the magazine’s day-to-day operations. The current executive leadership of the magazine will remain intact, making Salesforce operate discretely from the magazine.
The Editor-in-Chief of Time, Edward Felsenthal said in a statement, “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.”
With its net worth of $6.7 billion, as per the Forbes estimation, the tech founder is the latest billionaire to acquire a collapsing 95-year-old legacy publication. Once experiencing dwindling readership and advertising revenue, the Washington Post was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013. Los Angeles Times, which had suffered a turbulent few years in terms of staff turnover and finance was purchased earlier this year by Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million.
Time, too, has suffered substantial damage owing to the changing media environment. Its advertising revenue and newsstand sales—both in print and online—have by and large declined. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the weekly magazine, known for its red-bordered cover and annual “Person of the Year” issue, was compelled to cut its circulation by one-third.
Time’s then-parent company Time Inc., last year suffered a year-over-year revenue drop of 8% and laid off 300 workers. Nevertheless, according to comScore Time has witnessed its digital audience reach over 30 million monthly new visitors—more than 15% over the last 3 years. However, it will be up to Benioff to continue to coxswain Time in a direction appropriate for today’s digital media landscape.
Tom Harty, Meredith’s chief executive, said in a statement, “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.”
Despite the fact that Salesforce CEO and chairman, Benioff has invested in dozens of other companies, most of them are in the software and tech sphere. These investments include real estate app Compass and hotel software firm Duetto, cyber security software company Illumio, which has been valued at over $1 billion and Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s new media platform.
Benioffs signed off in the press release by saying, “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.”