Magazines Publishing

Tech billionaire to media baron: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff buys TIME magazine for $190 million

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff are buying TIME, the pre-eminent 95-year-old weekly newsmagazine, for $190 million.

The sale comes less than a year after Meredith Corporation—which specializes in home and lifestyle magazines like People, Better Homes and Gardens, and Entertainment Weekly—bought TIME magazine and the rest of Time Inc. last November.

“We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” said the Benioffs. “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.”

Mr. Benioff, 53, whose net worth has been estimated at more than $6 billion by Forbes, sent out a series of tweets on Sunday, saying he and his wife were “honored to be stewards of this iconic brand.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval and is expected to close within 30 days, according to a press release by Meredith.

“We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the TIME brand,” said Meredith President and CEO Tom Harty. “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.” 

TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal informed staff in a letter that the Benioffs would be acquiring the iconic magazine “as a family investment.”

TIME will continue to be based in New York, Mr. Felsenthal said. And he further clarified that TIME will also stay centred on the print magazine, which now has over 2 million paid subscribers.

The print product is the foundation that we’re building everything else on,” he said.

TIME reaches more than 100 million readers through print and online combined. Its special editions—especially Person of the Year—remain closely watched releases globally.

The Benioffs won’t be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, which will continue to be led by TIME‘s current executive leadership team.

“We have deep respect for your entire organization and are honored to now have TIME as part of our family impact investment portfolio,” said Marc Benioff. “The power of TIME has always been its unequaled ability to tell stories about the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all. Lynne and I will take on no operational responsibility for TIME, and look only to be stewards of this historic and iconic brand with all of us.”

The Benioffs are also making their purchase of TIME magazine personally, keeping it separate from Salesforce.com, Inc., which is a cloud computing company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Marc Benioff said his decision to buy TIME was motivated by a desire to preserve the title. TIME, like other magazines, has been struggling with continued declines in print advertising and newsstand sales.

The purchase continues a trend of acquisitions of iconic media brands by wealthy tech moguls, showing the growing integration between the tech and media industries.

Earlier this year, pharma billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the Los Angeles Times. Last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine through her organization, Emerson Collective. The Washington Post was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013.

Now, with the deal for TIME, the Benioffs have picked up one of the most venerated print publications in the world.

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