Billionaire Salesforce co-founder to buy Time magazine for $190m

17 Sep 2018176 Views

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Time Magazine print copies. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

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Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is buying Time magazine along with his wife, Lynne.

In January 2018, Time magazine was sold to Meredith Corp and now it is changing hands once more. Marc Benioff, CEO and co-founder of CRM leader Salesforce, is buying the brand from Meredith for $190m. Benioff is making the purchase as an individual, along with his wife, Lynne, according to The Wall Street Journal. The purchase is unrelated to Salesforce.

The sale is said to close within 30 days and Marc said that he and his wife were “investing in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business”. Lynne noted Time’s flourishing video business and added that the publication’s power lies in “its unique storytelling of the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all”.

Part of a debt relief plan for Meredith

TechCrunch reported that Meredith stated earlier this year it planned to sell titles including Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money as part of a major money-saving strategy. Meredith said it will use the proceeds from the successful sale of Time to pay off debt, and it expects its debt to reduce by $1bn during the 2019 fiscal year.

Meredith’s initial acquisition of Time was controversial due to the financial support it received from Koch Equity Development, a fund known for backing Conservative causes managed by the Koch brothers. Marc said that neither he nor his wife would be involved in the daily operations of Time nor its editorial decisions.

Many tech leaders invest in media

The Benioffs are far from the first major tech figureheads to invest in media. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post in a personal capacity five years ago. Laurene Powell Jobs’ philanthropic group Emerson Collective purchased a majority stake in The Atlantic in 2017. Jack Ma also led the acquisition of the South China Morning Post, but it was Alibaba that purchased the paper, not Ma himself.

Time has struggled in recent years as print advertising has declined, but it has actively been pursuing a digital strategy as traditional revenue streams for publications continue to dry up. According to ComScore, Time.com’s audience grew to 31.7m multi-platform unique visitors in July 2018, from 27.4m in July of 2015.

CEO of Meredith, Tom Harty, said: “We know Time will continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs.”

Time Magazine print copies. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com