Who Will Be BusinessWeek's Next Editor?

Time Inc. vet Jim Kelly, John Byrne early favorites for top editing gig.

Stephen Adler said late on Tuesday that he will resign from his post as editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek after its sale to Bloomberg LP is finalized in December.

“It was hugely important to me to help find the right home for BusinessWeek and to work closely with our business-side colleagues to ensure that staffers would be provided appropriate benefits under any circumstance,” Adler wrote in a memo. "Now that these goals have been accomplished, I’m considering other opportunities, and I believe it makes sense for a new owner to move forward with a new editor.”

McGraw-Hill announced last week that it will sell the magazine to Bloomberg, at a reported price of less than $5 million, plus the assumption of significant debt.

The departure of Adler paves the way for Norm Pearlstine, former Time Inc. editor and soon-to-be BusinessWeek chairman, to handpick a candidate for the top editor post.

Which means the early money is on Jim Kelly, former managing editor of Time Inc. who has been enlisted by Pearlstine to “help with the transition,” to get the job. (Adler and Pearlstine, too, were once colleagues at the Wall Street Journal.)

Other candidates that have been floated include Eric Pooley, former managing editor of Fortune, and Joanne Lipman, who had served as editor of Condé Nast's failed Portfolio.

Kelly would be a fine choice. My money, however, is on John Byrne, executive editor, editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com and one prolific tweeter (I once referred to him as “tweeter-in-chief,” and will take credit for coining the term.)

Kelly did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. And Byrne is off on his honeymoon, after getting married last weekend in San Francisco.

Here’s Adler’s full memo, via BusinessWeek:

October 20, 2009

Colleagues:

I want you to be the first to know that I will be leaving BusinessWeek when Bloomberg becomes its new owner in December.

It was hugely important to me to help find the right home for BusinessWeek and to work closely with our business-side colleagues to ensure that staffers would be provided appropriate benefits under any circumstance. Now that these goals have been accomplished, I’m considering other opportunities, and I believe it makes sense for a new owner to move forward with a new editor.

I’m excited about the sale to Bloomberg and about BusinessWeek’s opportunity to prosper under its leadership. I’m confident the Bloomberg team shares our journalistic standards and will bring new passion, new ideas, and new resources to the endeavor. I look forward to working with you and with the Bloomberg team to make the smoothest-possible transition.

I’m very proud of the work the BusinessWeek team has done in the past five years. You’ve broken an extraordinary series of stories and won a record number of awards, including the most prestigious in our business. You’ve provided the indispensable journalism for which our magazine has long been famous—and on which our readers depend. As a result, BusinessWeek has succeeded in maintaining all of its print readership of nearly five million during a period of great economic challenge, while building a new audience of ten million monthly users online.

I am especially grateful to Terry McGraw and all my McGraw-Hill colleagues for their support. Terry has always protected our editorial independence, cheered our accomplishments, and held us to the highest standards of journalistic integrity and excellence. At I&M, Glenn Goldberg has helped us enormously with resource needs and always provided thoughtful counsel and encouragement.

I want to offer deepest thanks to BW’s two executive editors — and my good friends — Ellen Pollock and John Byrne, for guiding our editorial team with such extraordinary skill and good humor. They helped build and maintain the close community we share (think jazz and chocolate!) During the past 30 months, BusinessWeek President Keith Fox has been the ideal collaborator and an amazingly creative and disciplined leader of our business in the toughest of times. I am grateful for all his tireless work on behalf of our team. And I must express my great affection and gratitude to Aida Rosario, whom you all know as our secret weapon in navigating the bureaucracy and whom we are all so fortunate to have managing the office.

It has been an honor and a daily joy to work with all of you. And for the next six weeks, it will remain so.

With my thanks and warm regards,

Steve