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Companies Of A Century: How Time Evolved In A Tough Industry

'Here we are, a hundred years later, with the same mission and the same purpose,' says CEO Jessica Sibley, 'it’s amazing how it’s come full circle.'

Editor’s Note: Chief Executive is kicking off a new annual tradition this year by celebrating every sizable (over $100 million in annual revenues) standalone company turning 100 in 2023. Check out the rest of this year’s class for tips, insights and, above all else, the inspiration you need to keep going….and going.

 

PUBLISHING 

TIME 

HQ: New York, New York
Revenue: ~$200 million
Employees: ~300 

Continuing the legacy of one of global media’s most influential brands into a second century is a tall order, and newly installed CEO Jessica Sibley knows it. “Trusted journalism is more essential than ever in a moment when misinformation is rampant,” she says. “And for a hundred years, Time has maintained the trust of its audiences and our partners globally.” 

Time was the brainchild of young Yale grad Henry Luce, who parlayed its fast success as the first national news magazine into a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate that dominated the country’s intellectual life for decades through publications like Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and People and indelible franchises like Man of the Year and controversial covers like “Is God Dead?” (from 1966). 

Full Circle 

Its reach was fueled by innovation, including a new coated magazine paper that could quickly be printed for millions; simultaneous weekly printing on both coasts to reach subscribers across the country every Friday; a groundbreaking new system for selling advertising by region and even working with the U.S. Postal Service to develop the concept of zip codes to better aid delivery of its product. 

Time after Luce became a powerhouse player at the vanguard of the Big Media conglomeration wave that reshaped American society—for good and bad. In 1989, Time Inc. took advantage of Warner Communications’ weak financial situation and merged the companies. Later, the disastrous takeover of Time Warner by AOL in 2000 resulted in the loss of an estimated $200 billion in shareholder value, one of the worst M&A transactions in history. 

By 2013, the faltering parent company had spun out Time Inc., which was purchased by publisher Meredith. In 2018, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Morgan Lynne Benioff, purchased Time for $190 million to help address what Benioff calls a “crisis of trust” in the country by preserving rigorously reported journalism. 

“Young entrepreneurs in 1923 started Time for people who were busy but needed to get access to information, to be educated and smart in their lives and professional careers,” says Sibley. “Here we are, a hundred years later, with the same mission and the same purpose…it’s amazing how it’s come full circle.” 


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