Time Inc. Replaces CEO Ripp After Jana Partners Takes Stake

  • Battista takes helm as publisher expands digital businesses
  • Company’s shares have declined by 7.7 percent this year

Time Inc.. the owner of People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines, replaced Chief Executive Officer Joe Ripp, a month after sometimes-activist investor Jana Partners acquired a stake in the publisher.

Ripp, who remains executive chairman, is being replaced by Rich Battista, 52, who had been an executive vice president overseeing the company’s brands, according to a statement Tuesday. Ripp, 64, had run the New York-based company, a former unit of Time Warner Inc., since 2013.

Ripp told the Wall Street Journal that he had a “health incident” a few weeks ago that forced him to consider cutting back his work hours.

Joe Ripp

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Jana Partners held 5 percent of the publisher’s shares at the end of June, according to a filing. The investment group met recently with Time and brought up the average age of the company’s board members, the New York Post reported last week.

Time has been working to expand its digital businesses, including streaming video, to reduce its dependence on print magazines, which are losing advertising clients to online publishers. Sales fell 0.5 percent last quarter from a year earlier to $769 million.

Time’s shares fell 0.8 percent to $14.36 at 11:37 a.m. in New York. The stock had dropped 7.7 percent this year through Monday.

Viant Purchase

Earlier this year, Time bought Viant Technology Inc., the owner of Myspace, to get more data to help sell targeted advertising. It also launched a new site, Motto, focused on millennial women, and has been posting more videos on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Live.

The publisher is aiming to boost revenue by creating more custom content for sponsors and making it easier for marketers to buy ads across its magazine portfolio, Ripp said in July. Such ads -- promotional content that’s designed to look like editorial articles and videos -- have become the lifeblood of digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Vice Media.

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