The print media industry is going through some lean times. With readership declining and ad revenue getting tougher to come by, even highly reputable publications are finding it hard to stay in business. In many cases, their one lifeline is having a benefactor from Silicon Valley. One tech billionaire, Jeff Bezos, made headlines in 2013 when he bought The Washington Post; now another, Marc Benioff, is doing the same with his purchase of Time magazine.
Benioff, who amassed his fortune by co-founding the software giant Salesforce.com, agreed this week to pay $180 million in cash to Meredith Corp. for the rights to own Time. Benioff is looking to boost his influence as not only a tech tycoon, but also a civic leader with visibility on a national level. While neither the 53-year-old Benioff nor his wife, Lynne, is expected to be involved in the magazine’s day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, the hope is that their leadership can help revive a brand that still has a strong reputation but is struggling financially.
“We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” the Benioffs said in a statement. “Time has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.”
Benioff has amassed a net worth of $6.5 billion during his time as co-chief executive of Salesforce, but he’s now looking to branch out. In recent years, he’s expanded his influence through personal philanthropy as well as corporate sponsorship of public projects in San Francisco. This year, he opened Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building in the city. Now, with Time in his portfolio, he enters the media business.
There may be more developments to come for both Time and its parent company, Meredith. The company also owns other notable publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune, and it’s been speculated that deals for other titles may be coming soon.
For now, though, the focus is on working with Benioff to make Time the best publication it can be moving forward.
“Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation,” said Meredith CEO Tom Harty. “We know Time will continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs.”