The storied Time journal is being acquired by Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff, and his spouse, for $190 million in money – the most recent instance of rich tech moguls bailing out previous media manufacturers. And whereas Benioff says he is not “a Democrat or a Republican,” one media critic says his previous help of President Obama factors to extra of the identical on the once-proud publication.
“Journalism has been failing for years with job cuts, shrinking circulation and collapsing income. It’s no marvel it takes somebody like Marc Benioff with greater than $6 billion to afford to help a failing liberal outlet like Time,” Media Analysis Middle Vice President Dan Gainor instructed Fox Information.
Time, like different magazines, has struggled with continued declines in print promoting and newsstand gross sales. Citing the Alliance for Audited Media, The Wall Avenue Journal reported that Time “slashed its circulation considerably to 2.three million for the six-month interval ended June three,” which is down from three million over the identical time-frame final yr.
“A wealthy CEO shopping for a information group comes off as a novelty buy.”
Regardless of these flagging numbers, Benioff praised the journal’s “distinctive storytelling,” calling it a treasure trove of historical past and tradition.
“Naturally he doesn’t wish to make any modifications in Time’s already liberal operation,” Gainor stated, pointing to a 2012 CNN report that Benioff raised $500,000 for Obama’s re-election effort as proof of the place he stands. “Wouldn’t or not it’s nice if one in every of these billionaires purchased a rubbish outlet like Time and insisted on making it impartial?”
Benioff joins Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Laurene Powell Jobs and Patrick Quickly-Shiong as tech billionaires to scoop up legacy media manufacturers in current reminiscence. Bezos purchased The Washington Submit in 2013, the widow of Apple legend Steve Jobs purchased a majority stake in The Atlantic final yr and Quickly-Shiong bought the Los Angeles Instances earlier this yr.
Powell Jobs has funded assault advertisements aimed on the Trump administration, whereas Quickly-Shiong reportedly has shut ties with former Vice President Joe Biden. Bezos hasn’t been notably partisan on a private degree – he not too long ago donated a whopping $10 million to a nonpartisan tremendous PAC that backs veterans on each side of the aisle – however he has been essential of Trump’s therapy of the press.
Media critic and DePauw College professor Jeffrey McCall instructed Fox Information that “some good may come from having individuals with deep pockets take over struggling media operations and offering these operations with stability and assets.”
McCall famous that tech billionaires “aren’t shopping for media properties as a result of they want the cash or anticipate an enormous return on the funding” and preserving conventional media voices alive will be good for sustaining the standard and attain of journalism.
The New York Instances not too long ago referred to Benioff as an “eccentric billionaire, even by Silicon Valley requirements,” however esteemed reporter-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb agrees with McCall that the acquisition can be a fantastic transfer for Time staffers.
“Benioff’s buy of Time journal can solely be good for the journal and its employees,” Bibb instructed Fox Information. “Time is also a worldwide model with greater than a half a century of recognition amongst media, authorities, and upmarket readers.”
Regardless of the optimism, McCall does have a priority and hopes the Salesforce honcho considers the “heavy accountability that comes with disseminating info and leisure to a mass society” by way of an asset equivalent to Time.
“A wealthy CEO shopping for a information group comes off as a novelty buy,” he stated. “Principally, anyone with some huge cash needs a brand new trinket and a deflated media product turns into a enjoyable strategy to wield affect within the public sphere.”
Others took to Twitter to chime in on Benioff’s elaborate buy.
“Billionaires are similar to us, besides their impulse buys are $190 million magazines,” tech journalist Peter Kafka tweeted, whereas entrepreneur-turned-2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted that techies make such purchases “in search of cultural sway and affect.”
Meredith – which acquired Time Inc. earlier this yr – declared that Benioff “won’t be concerned within the day-to-day operations or journalistic selections” of Time. Bezos additionally declared he wouldn’t oversee the day-to-day operations of the Submit — however President Trump mocks the paper because the “Amazon Washington Submit” regularly.
Benioff has blasted conservative points previously and The Wall Avenue Journal as soon as referred to as him “a grasp promoter within the motion towards social activism amongst American chief executives.” He’s a champion of many social points equivalent to gender-pay equality and urged Trump to maintain the U.S. within the Paris settlement on local weather change.
Whereas he’s lively in terms of a wide range of liberal social points, Benioff has additionally confirmed that he isn’t as far left as a lot of his Silicon Valley friends. He even took to Twitter to congratulate Trump after his stunning defeat of Clinton in 2016.
“That is what makes America nice — our democracy. Now could be the time for us to return collectively as one nation,” Benioff wrote.
After Meredith bought Time Inc. in January, the corporate introduced it could unload Time Inc.’s information and sports activities manufacturers, together with the distinguished Time journal. The negotiations of gross sales for Fortune, Cash and Sports activities Illustrated are nonetheless persevering with, whereas Meredith can be the writer of Folks and Higher Houses & Gardens.
“The one actual shock is that Benioff and his spouse didn’t see the profit in buying Fortune and Sports activities Illustrated together with Time. They might most likely have purchased your entire bundle for lower than $500 million since Meredith needed these titles off their books,” Bibb instructed Fox Information.
Fox Information’ Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.