Time Inc. CEO Griffin Exits After Six-Month Stint

Jeff Bewkes
The magazine division will be led by an interim management committee until a permanent successor is identified, Jeff Bewkes said. Photographer: Brendan Hoffman/Bloomberg

Time Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Griffin is leaving his post, departing the magazine publisher six months after being named to the job.

The management change was announced in a memo yesterday to Time Inc. employees by Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner Inc., the New York-based parent company. The magazine division will be led by an interim management committee until a permanent successor is identified, Bewkes said.

Griffin was named chairman and CEO of the unit in August, replacing Ann Moore, who retired after 32 years with the company. His sudden departure underscores how difficult it can be for newcomers to shake up Time, an editorial organization imbued with tradition, said Ken Doctor, a media analyst at Outsell Inc. in Santa Cruz, California.

“Time Inc. has a very strong culture and doesn’t particularly like outsiders,” Doctor said. “Part of what’s going on here, rightfully or wrongfully, is that the body rejected the transplant.”

In his memo to employees, Bewkes said Griffin didn’t fit in with the company.

“Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner,” Bewkes said.

Griffin Disputes

Griffin issued a statement today, disputing Bewkes’s characterization of his departure.

“I was recruited and hired by Time Warner to lead the business transformation of Time Inc., based on my clear record of success and results in the industry,” said Griffin in the statement. “This continued at Time Inc., with the consistent and documented acclaim of Time Warner’s senior management. Every action I took over the past six months was made with that ultimate goal in mind. My exit was clearly not about management style or results.”

Andrei Bogolubov, a spokesman for Griffin, said he would not have additional comment.

During his stint at Time, Griffin helped create a new executive role, chief digital officer, that would develop a center for digital innovation within the company. He also formed a separate news division, putting Fortune, Money and Time magazines under a different management staff.

“It’s a nightmare scenario where you bring in somebody from the outside, they make massive changes, they put their own people in charge, and then they’re out the door,” Doctor said.

Griffin worked at Meredith Corp., the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and other magazines, between 1994 and 1999, and then again starting in 2003. He also has served at Parade, owned by Advance Publications, and the New York Times Co.’s magazine group.

Time Warner, which owns HBO and Warner Bros. studios, rose 50 cents to $38.18 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 18.7 percent this year.