Time Magazine is being sold by Meredith Corp. to Marc Benioff, a co-founder of Salesforce, and his wife, it was announced Sunday. Meredith announced that it was selling Time magazine for $190 million in cash to Benioff, one of four co-founders of Salesforce, a cloud computing pioneer.
Meredith had completed the purchase of Time along with other publications of Time Inc. earlier this year.
The Benioffs are purchasing Time personally, and the transaction is unrelated to Salesforce.com, where Benioff is chairman and co-CEO and co-founder. The announcement by Meredith said that the Benioffs would not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions at Time. Those decisions will continue to be made by Time’s current executive leadership team, the announcement said.
“We’re pleased to have found such passionate buyers in Marc and Lynne Benioff for the Time brand,” Meredith president and CEO Tom Harty 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.”
The Benioffs, who are paying $190 million in cash for the world-renowned publication, will not be involved in running it, Time Editor Edward Felsenthal told his staff Sunday.
“The Benioffs will hold Time as a family investment,” he said. “It will have no connection to Salesforce, the software company Marc founded in 1999. While they will not be operators of the business, we are extremely fortunate to have Marc and Lynne’s guidance and mentorship as we set out to build a new company.”
“The power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all,” Benioff tweeted Sunday. “A treasure trove of our history & culture. We have deep respect for their organization & honored to be stewards of this iconic brand.”
Meredith, the publisher of such magazines as People and Better Homes & Gardens, had put four Time Inc. publications up for sale in March. Negotiations for the sale of the three other publications _ Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated _ are continuing.
The prospective sale is expected to close within 30 days. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Benioff said he and his wife were investing “in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business. That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family.”
The purchase of Time by Benioff continues a trend of acquisitions of old-line media institutions by wealthy tech giants. The Washington Post was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. Time, like other magazines, has struggled with continued declines in print advertising and newsstand sales.
Laurene Powell Jobs, who has other media investments, bought a majority stake in the Atlantic magazine last year. And Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes bought the New Republic in 2012, but sold it after four years.
Started by Yale University graduates Henry Luce and Briton Hadden, Time first went on sale in March 1923.
It publishes an annual list of the world’s most influential people, and anoints companies, inventions and places as the world’s greatest. However, like many print publications in the age of online advertising, its business has struggled: In the first half of the year, its print circulation fell to 2.3 million, down from 3 million in the year-ago period, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Those figures were cited by the Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report the deal.
Meredith Corp., which also is trying to sell publications such as Fortune and Sports Illustrated, had owned Time since November.
The Benioffs were among many Time suitors who ended up being the best fit because “they’re not looking for private-equity returns,” Alan Murray, chief content officer of the Time brands at Meredith, told the New York Times.
Benioff, a former Oracle executive who co-founded cloud software provider Salesforce in 1999, has a net worth of $4.9 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time wealth tracker. He and his wife are philanthropists who have focused on education and health care, including through the University of California, San Francisco’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.
The deal is expected to close within 30 days, Meredith said in its press release Sunday.